There’s a lot of fun to be had in NHL 22 by playing on the back foot, laying down big checks, and catching teams out on the rush. Still, the more assured method of controlling the game and eventually coming out on top is to retain possession for long spells.
In ice hockey, possession in each phase begins in the faceoff circle, with teams who’re strong in the duel tending to enjoy more of the puck in each game. So, to help you to win more faceoffs and control the flow of the game, here’s everything that you need to know about faceoffs in NHL 22.
How do faceoffs work in NHL 22?
Faceoffs are a core play in ice hockey, with the drop of the puck deciding which team will come out with possession following stops in play. For the most part, in NHL 22, unless you tweak your special teams, the appointed center of your line that’s on the ice will take the faceoff against your opponent’s center.
To start a faceoff, two centers will stand on opposite sides of a designated faceoff dot. Next, the referee will approach from the side with the puck in their hand. It’s at this point in NHL 22 that you’ll want to set your grip, wait for the referee to throw the puck to the ground, and then perform your faceoff action of choice.
Those who want to know how to win faceoffs in NHL 22 would do well to work on watching the timing of the referee’s puck drop first, as how you time your faceoff action is the primary decider of if you come out with the puck. From here, understanding which actions tend to win against others can come into play.
Complete NHL 22 faceoffs controls
As you can see in the image above, the faceoff controls in NHL 22 are relatively simple: you set and hold one of two grips with the right analogue and then pick your move once the puck drops. However, there are several faceoff actions that you can pull from this set, as follows:
- Set Forehand Grip Prior to Drop: Hold Right Analogue Left
- Set Backhand Grip Prior to Drop: Hold Right Analogue Right
- Aim Puck Win Direction: Hold Left Analogue towards intended receiving player
- Basic Forehand Controls: Right Analogue Left (Grip), Right Analogue Down (Win Straight Back)
- Basic Backhand Controls: Right Analogue Right (Grip), Right Analogue Down (Win Straight Back)
- Forehand Stick Lift Controls: Right Analogue Left (Grip), Right Analogue Up (Stick Lift), Right Analogue Down (Pass Puck Back)
- Backhand Stick Lift Controls: Right Analogue Right (Grip), Right Analogue Up (Stick Lift), Right Analogue Down (Pass Puck Back)
- Faceoff Deke Controls: L1/LB and flick Right Analogue Up (Don’t set a Grip)
- Forehand Tie-Up Controls: Right Analogue Left (Grip), Left Analogue Up (Push Back Opponent)
- Backhand Tie-Up Controls: Right Analogue Right (Grip), Left Analogue Up (Push Back Opponent)
- Faceoff Shot Controls: FlickRight Analogue towards the goal (Don’t set a Grip)
The faceoff controls listed above show the grip direction for the more common left-handed faceoff taker (those who hold their left hand lower down the stick). For a right-handed faceoff taker, flip the grip controls to the other side.
How to win faceoffs in NHL 22
To win a faceoff in NHL 22, you need to set your grip before the puck drops, not play your faceoff action until the puck has hit the ice, and pick a faceoff action that will beat that of your opponent.
However, to have an even better chance of winning a faceoff, you should make sure that your faceoff takers have high attribute ratings for faceoffs and poise. Even then, you almost certainly won’t win every draw, with a 57 per cent faceoff win percentage considered elite-tier in the real NHL.
NHL 22 Faceoff Chart
In the table below, you can see our findings from several faceoffs using the different actions and how they’ve tended to pan out. Of course, faceoff taker attributes, timing on the draw, and other situational elements will sway results. So, consider this faceoffs table to be loose guidance and what we found to be the result the majority of the time in our playthrough of NHL 22.
|Faceoff Action||Basic Forehand||Basic Backhand||Forehand Stick Lift||Backhand Stick Lift||Faceoff Deke||Forehand Tie-Up||Backhand Tie-Up||Faceoff Shot|
|Forehand Stick Lift||W||L||E||W||W||E||W||W|
|Backhand Stick Lift||W||L||L||E||W||W||E||W|
As shown in the faceoffs table above, we found the following to be the general themes of faceoff actions through our simulations of draws:
- Basic Backhand is superior to Basic Forehand most of the time;
- Forehand Sticklift is better than Backhand Sticklift most of the time;
- Backhand Tie-Up tends to produce more wins than Forehand Tie-Up, but the split here was more marginal;
- Deke and Faceoff Shot very rarely work, especially against human opponents who know how to take faceoffs.
Tips for winning faceoffs in NHL 22
Faceoffs are relatively simple in NHL 22, controls-wise, and several draws will be decided by a mere split-second of better timing from one side of the faceoff circle. Still, there are a few ways to better your chances of winning possession when the puck drops.
1. Get the best faceoff centers in your lines
Being a game that revolves around player attribute ratings, having a higher-rated faceoff taker in the circle will automatically give you an edge. In NHL 22, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan O’Reilly, Sidney Crosby, and Jonathan Toews boast the highest faceoff scores, so they’ll tend to win more duels if your timing and action selection is correct.
Generally speaking, two-way centers tend to have strong ratings for faceoffs, so if you want to win the puck more often when your bottom-six lines are out, seek to bring in one of these defence-minded skaters.
2. Watch for Quick Draw
NHL 22 brings with it a new feature: X-Factors. Of all of the Zone and Superstar Abilities now available, it’s Quick Draw that you want to look out for in the faceoff circle.
The Zone Abilities are the most influential, and in its Zone Ability form, Quick Draw grants the effect of exceptional quickness in faceoffs, increased effectiveness in tie-up wins, and enhanced defensive zone faceoffs. As a Superstar Ability, Quick Draw grants great faceoff ability.
Ryan O’Reilly is the only player with the Quick Draw X-Factor as their Zone Ability in the base game of NHL 22.
3. Timing is the most crucial factor
Any player who doesn’t have their grip set as they glide towards the drop spot or is fidgeting before the puck drops is likely going to lose the draw. As for the basics of timing faceoffs: have your grip held firmly on the backhand or forehand once your player sets their feet, and then don’t perform your faceoff action until just after you see the referee lean in to drop the puck.
4. Watch your opponent’s hands
To see which faceoff action your opponent could use, keep an eye on the hand that they place lower down the stick.
If you can see their fingers and thumb, they’ll be using a forehand grip. A basic forehand draw can often be beaten by a basic backhand, forehand stick lift, or backhand stick lift. Also, a better-timed basic forehand or one by a better center can win these duels.
If you can see the knuckles of their glove, they’re going backhand, which can be beaten by either tie-up move or a better-timed basic backhand draw – or one performed by a superior center.
If your opponent stands without setting their grip, they’re either not contending or, more likely, aiming to attempt a faceoff shot or faceoff deke. In these instances, you can attempt the same to get a flashy win, but you’re better off just going with any other faceoff action as you’ll win the duel with proper timing.
5. If in doubt, set-up on the backhand
In our playthrough of testing faceoff actions in all of the different duel match-ups in several situations, it was found that the basic backhand move is the most trusty and often the easiest move to pull. Against CPU skaters, it’s rather effective, but you’ll want to mix it up online as better players will be wise to the backhand set-up.
Hopefully, the tips above will help you to become a master of the duel in NHL 22, but the key to winning more faceoffs is your timing and the use of highly-rated skaters.