Vermette draws terrific reviews

DON BRENNAN -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 7:24 AM ET

"All-Purpose Antoine" Vermette is ever so quietly distinguishing himself as one of the NHL's best in another category.

Already one of the game's fastest skaters, most dangerous penalty killers and top goals-per-minutes-played player, the Senators forward has also become one of the league's best faceoff men.

Of all NHLers who have taken at least 500 draws this season, Vermette has been fourth-most successful.

To date, he has claimed 58.5% of his draws with a 302-214 won-loss record.

The only three players who've been better are well-known for their prowess in the circles: Nashville's Yanic Perreault is at 62.4% (552-333); Florida's Joe Nieuwendyk has been good on 59.7% (698-471) and Carolina's Rod Brind' Amour has won 59.4% (1230-841).

After Vermette, Jason Spezza has been the Senators' next best draw-man with a 53% success rate (617-548). Mike Fisher is at 50% (415-415), Bryan Smolinski is at 50% (497-498), Tyler Arnason is at 46.4% (308-355) and Chris Kelly is at 46.1% (365-427).

"When I played junior, we had an assistant coach who stayed after practice and worked with you on that," said Vermette, whose six short-handed goals are the second most in the league. "Now it's Carvy (Senators assistant coach Greg Carvel) who seems to look more at the details like this.

"I try to keep working on it now, even though I'm mostly playing left wing. Sometimes I have to jump in there."

Vermette, who had a goal and an assist in Tuesday's 4-3 OT win over Boston, has now scored 21 times despite an average of 12:39 of ice time per game. Eight Ottawa forwards log more.

"I'm trying to do different stuff that can help the team," said Vermette.

THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM...: "I don't think anybody could call me a homer," the local radio guy stated in all seriousness yesterday before an on-air debate as to whether Ottawa will miss meeting Toronto in the first round of the playoffs. "The Leafs just don't stack up to us anymore," he said 10 minutes later. "We've got to find a team that does."

ICE CHIPS: Mike Eaves, the father of Senators W Patrick, was yesterday named the coach of the U.S. national team that will compete at the world championship in Latvia, May 5-21 ... The Senators yesterday sent Ds Brad Norton and Filip Novak back to Binghamton.


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