By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron sounds like a man whose patience has run out.
One of the league’s top defensive forwards, and undoubtedly the game’s top faceoff ace, Bergeron has been tossed from over 25 faceoffs through nine postseason games. For a player whose faceoff form was apparently good enough to take nearly 1,400 draws in the regular season, that’s absurd. And Monday’s Game 2 loss in Tampa, which saw Bergeron chased from six total draws — including four in the offensive zone (the Lightning, of course, went 3-for-4 against Bergeron’s replacements) — was perhaps the most infuriating of the nine games to date in this regard.
And at this point, all Bergeron wants is an answer.
“It’s a bit of a head-scratcher once in a while, to be honest with you,” Bergeron said following Wednesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “But like I said in the first series, it’s something I need to bear down [on]. I’ve been asking a lot of questions, I don’t seem to be getting any answers, so it’s up to me to adjust and be better.”
Bergeron, for what it’s worth, enters tonight’s Game 3 meeting at TD Garden with a playoff-best 113 faceoff victories. His 58.9 percent success rate at the dot is the fifth-best among skaters with at least 100 battles at the dot this season, too, often leaving the opposition simply hopeless when it comes to taking Bergeron on in a pure one-on-one.
But this sudden flip that’s left Bergeron tossed and lined up as a wing versus his normal center spot at an alarming rate is something Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy believes started in the first round, with the Maple Leafs’ Mike Babcock essentially telling referees to watch out for the ways that Bergeron ‘cheats’ on draws.
“I was told in the Toronto series that the issue early on in the series that was brought up by the opposition was they didn’t feel the center ice men were stopping, coming to a stop before the puck was dropped,” Cassidy said on a Tuesday conference call. “That is what the linesmen sort of were instructing both sides I presume. From there I haven’t heard anything else. Obviously, we’ve got to do a better job whatever the case is, whether we’re in or we’re kicked out, to start winning our share of pucks. I think that has shown up probably in shot total, shot attempts and yeah, the puck more intended to generate more. Hopefully we can get that squared away going forward [Wednesday].”
It’s fair to assume that Jon Cooper and the Lightning did something similar, too, as Bergeron went from having a clean afternoon at the dot in Game 1 to being watched and tossed left and right throughout Monday’s loss.
“I don’t know. To be honest with you, I’m not worrying about it,” Bergeron said when asked if this simply more gamesmanship. “I’m not trying to find out what’s going on. I guess it’s up to me to find a way to adjust, adapt and maybe talk to the linesmen even more to understand what’s going on. And at the end of the day, I need to win draws.
“I haven’t really spent too much time asking questions, to be honest with you. I think it’s up to me to be better, look at video and see what’s going on. I’m seeing a lot of things on both sides, but that’s all I can really control right now.”
Pressed on the topic for close to three minutes, Bergeron consistently made sure that he didn’t say the ‘wrong’ thing, and continued to do his part to simply brush it off heading into a crucial Game 3 at TD Garden.
“At this point, I’m kind of over all that stuff,” Bergeron, visibly uncomfortable by the end of this continued line of questioning, admitted. “I’m trying to focus in on Game 3 and be good and hopefully not get kicked out too much.”
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.