What is FOW in hockey stats?

Sports are great for people who love statistics. There are seemingly an infinite number of things to track and with that an infinite number of abbreviations to keep track of all these stats. A common abbreviation that shows up, but is not immediately obvious is to what it stands for is FOW. 

What is FOW in hockey stats? FOW stands for the number of Faceoffs Won by a player and helps determine the players ability at taking faceoffs. Along with this stat a player is also tracked on FOL or the number of Faceoffs Lost and the Faceoff Win Percentage. 

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The Faceoff Win Percentage, or FOW%, is the most important stat to look at in regards to faceoffs. But, we will get to that in a second. Let’s start out by looking at why faceoffs are so important in the NHL.

Why are faceoff wins important in ice hockey?

NHL management, coaches, and players put a lot of importance on getting faceoff wins. 

But why? 

To answer this we need to take a look at another stat first. One of the most important concepts in the NHL is possession. Possession is the percentage of time that your team has the puck during the game. For instance, your team may have the puck 55% of the time versus 45% for the other team.

Teams care so much possession, because there is a high correlation between the team that wins the game and the amount of possession they have during the game. Basically, if your possession stats are above 50% you are going to win a lot more games then you lose. 

So what helps a team have good possession stats? Well, a number of things, but winning faceoffs is one of the key things that helps your team get possession of the puck. The more faceoffs you win the more you will have the puck. Simple. 

How is a faceoff win determined? 

A faceoff win is determined not by which player or team touches the puck first after it is dropped, but what team gains possession of the puck. There is that possession word again. 

For instance, the two centers could possibly ‘tie’ each other up and, essentially, neutralize each other while a winger for one of the teams comes in and scoops the puck up. The winger on the team has gained possession for the team and helped get a faceoff win.

I shared this example because faceoff wins and losses or not only about the person who takes the faceoff draw but about all the players on the ice. The other players on the team have some effect on the wins/losses and not just the person who takes the faceoff. The stat is calculated based on who is taking it, but the wins/loses are not all within their control. A large part of it is, but not all of it.

However, looking at the stats there are players who are consistently better at taking faceoffs than others. 

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What are good numbers for someone who is taking faceoffs? 

When looking at faceoffs most often the number that is analyzed is percentage of faceoff wins. Nobody is really looking at the cumulative total of faceoff wins. It doesn’t really help to say a player won 550 faceoffs in the NHL season. That doesn’t really help us that much.

However, it does help to say that a player won 55% of his faceoffs. That means that he is winning more than losing and is helping get possession for his team. 

So the real stat you want to look at is FOW% – Faceoff Win Percentage.

Generally, a player is aiming to win 50% or more of their faceoffs with the best players winning about 60%.

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