Hockey is not scripted like football. Most of the game is free-flowing, creative, and intuitive.
But faceoffs allow coaches to dust off their playbooks. After a faceoff win, players skate predetermined routes. A win leads to a chance. A chance can result in a goal.
The faceoff is the distillation of conflict, hockey’s primary and primal characteristic. Two centers brawl over a 50-50 puck the way two Dobermans would fight for a ribeye. Their teammates shove, punch, and slash opponents in pursuit of the puck following the draw. Cowards do not succeed.
And winning the faceoffs can go a long way toward winning the game. Just ask the Bruins, who are pretty much the best in the league at it. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.