BRIGHTON, Mass — Boy, did New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz poke the bear with the Boston Bruins ahead of Monday night’s pivotal Game 5 matching vs. the Isles at TD Garden.
The isles head coach decided to go after Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron and essentially accused him of “cheating” in the face-off circle.
It’s obviously not the first time this kind of things has happened as former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock used to do something similar where he would continuously get Bergeron yanked out of the face-off circle by complaining to the NHL officials watching the playoff series. But this is the first time it’s really out in the open with Trotz openly using the word “cheating” with a player in Bergeron that’s got a hard-earned sterling reputation around the league.
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“Bergy is a really good faceoff guy…one of the best. [Pageau], Brock [Nelson] and [Travis] Zajac all study what he does,” said Trotz. “The biggest thing with Bergeron, and really linesman can control this, is that he doesn’t like to get his stick down. So, he’s got to come to a stop, you know, and then you have a fair fight. He’s a veteran guy that knows how to cheat on the faceoffs.
“I’m relying on our very capable officiating crew and linesman to make sure 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, very capable and he’s been a top centerman [and] faceoff guy for a long time.”
It’s a curious time to say and do this for Trotz as Jean-Gabriel Pageau has actually done a very good job battling Bergeron in the face-off circle and helped hold No. 37 to a 10-for-24 performance on the draw in Game 4. It’s been that way throughout the series for Bergeron and the lack of face-off wins has, at times, hampered their puck possession in key moments.
Bergeron, to his credit, wasn’t going to get drawn in publicly with Trotz and instead correctly said the head coach mentioning it was a similarly crafty veteran move meant to lobby favor with the officials.
“Personally, I’m just going to worry about what I’m going to do out there,” said Bergeron with a laugh. “He said it was a ‘veteran play.’ I think it’s a ‘veteran play’ by him as a coach to need to try to get the officiating, and the linesman, to worry about it.”
The game within the game continues for the Boston Bruins and Islanders, but this may end up backfiring on Trotz. Just think about Peter Laviolette pretending now to know who the Perfection Line was prior to the first round series against the Washington Capitals and how that worked out for him.
Now on to the rest of the puck links:
*Could David Quinn wind up as the head coach of the Buffalo Sabres as they figure out what to do with his former BU player Jack Eichel? My partner-in-crime Jimmy Murphy has that and more in this week’s OTR column. (Boston Hockey Now)
*The Boston Bruins are most definitely at a crossroads with the New York Islanders in this series, and tonight’s Game 5 at TD Garden is going to tell us which way this series is going. (Boston Hockey Now)
*Things are not looking good for a Winnipeg Jets team that is missing Mark Scheifele and has run into a buzzsaw called the Montreal Canadiens. (Winnipeg Sun)
*New York Islanders Anders Lee was spotted skating at TD Garden prior to Game 5 as he comes back from knee surgery. Not sure there’s any chance of him returning for any point in these playoffs, but it’s worth nothing. (NYI Hockey Now)
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has the details behind a dud of a performance by the Colorado Avalanche against the Vegas Golden Knights. Could this be it for the Avs? (Colorado Hockey Now)
*Good to see a local kid from Hopkinton, Sean Farrell, tearing it up for the Chicago Steel and the USHL. The downside is that he’s a fourth-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, so he may end up stinging the Boston Bruins someday. (Chicago Steel)
*For something completely different: Boy, everything sounds great with the Loki series set to debut on Disney Plus this week. (Comicbook.com)