By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- On Saturday night, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy made a plea to the referees to perhaps get some more penalties called on the other team. On Sunday, Barry Trotz followed suit.
The Islanders head coach spoke with the media and made a plea to the linesmen with regard to policing Patrice Bergeron. In what can only be described as a wonderful insult sandwich, Trotz spoke glowingly of Bergeron's abilities while sneaking in a not-so-subtle complaint about the centerman's crafty work at the faceoff dot this series.
Here's precisely what Trotz said, with the notable part in bold:
Well I think, you know, Bergy's been a, he's a really good faceoff guy. One of the best. And I think [J.G. Pageau] and guys like say [Travis] Zajac, Brock [Nelson], they all study what he what he does.
The biggest thing with Bergy -- and really, the linesemen can control this -- he doesn't like to get his stick down. So he's got to come to a stop. And then you have a fair fight.
So he's a veteran guy who knows how to cheat on the faceoffs, and I'm relying on our very-capable officiating crew and linesmen to make sure that the cheating doesn't go on. Because he's good at it. All the veteran guys are -- he's not the only one. Trust me.
But he's very good and he's very capable, and he's been a top centerman and faceoff guy for a long time.
This wasn't exactly a subtle plea to the officials, but more of an overt statement to hopefully get a closer look from the men in stripes at the pre-puck-drop work of Bergeron. If it gets Bergeron tossed out of one or two faceoffs per game, it could make a significant difference in a tight series filled with close games.
Bergeron, fresh off his 10th consecutive season as a Selke finalist, was asked about Trotz's comments on Monday, ahead of Game 5 in Boston. And as he prepares to play in the 159th playoff game of his career, he's keenly aware of what Trotz -- coaching his 154th playoff game -- was trying to accomplish with that commentary.
"I mean, personally I'm going to worry about what I'm going to do out there and what I can do," Bergeron said. "I think it's -- he said it was a veteran play. I think it's a veteran play by him as a coach to go into me, to try to get the linesmen and the officiating to think about it."
Bergeron has been the NHL's best faceoff man for some time now, and he's coming off his best regular season ever. He won 62.2 percent of his faceoffs this year in the regular season. That number has dropped to a more reasonable 53.4 percent success rate in the playoffs thus far, and he's legitimately struggled at the dot in the Islanders series. Through four games, he's won just 45.7 percent of his draws. Bergeron won just 10 of his 24 draws in Game 4, including a rare 0-for-5 in the offensive zone. He was 6-for-18 at the dot in Game 3, too, making him 16-for-42 (38.1 percent) in the two games at Nassau Coliseum, indicating his "cheating" is perhaps not as successful as Trotz intimated.
Then again, Bergeron won 53.8 percent of his faceoffs in Games 1 and 2 in Boston, so the timing of Trotz's comments is likely not coincidental.
Of course, everyone understands that the word "cheating" in this instance means taking as much as the officials will give with regard to gaining any slight edge in any aspect of the game. But whenever the dreaded Cheat-word gets thrown around in a hotly contested playoff series, it's always certain to raise the intensity and emotions.
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