One of the biggest factors in the Islanders’ 4-1 win over the Bruins in game four on Saturday night was that Jean-Sebastian Pageau more than held his own in the face-off department, especially against Boston’s Patrice Bergeron. During the regular season, Bergeron had an NHL leading 62.24 winning percentage on face-offs, but in game four on Saturday night, he only won 41.7 percent of his draws while Pageau won 57.9 percent. Face-offs are so important in regular season play, but they can be even more critical in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Islanders have done their homework on one of the best in the business.
“(Bergeron) is a really good face-off guy,” said Islanders Head Coach Barry Trotz. “One of the best. Pager and guys like (Travis) Zajac, Brock (Nelson)…they all study what he does.”
So, the face-off battle is one of the storylines to pay attention to as the Islanders and Bruins meet in game five on Monday night in Boston (630pm NBC) with the series tied at two games apiece. But while Pageau enjoyed plenty of success against Bergeron in game four, Trotz wants to make sure that everything is by the book.
“The biggest thing with (Bergeron) is…and really the linesmen can control this…he doesn’t like to get the stick down so he’s got to come to a stop and then you have a fair fight,” said Trotz.
Islanders vs Bruins (Series tied 2-2)
Game 1…Saturday May 29th…Bruins 5 Islanders 2…
Game 2…Monday May 31st…Islanders 4 Bruins 3 (OT)…
Game 3…Thursday June 3rd…Bruins 2 Islanders 1 (OT)…
Game 4…Saturday June 5th…Islanders 4 Bruins 2…
Game 5…Monday June 7th…Islanders at Bruins…630pm NBCSN
Game 6…Wednesday June 9th…Bruins at Islanders…730pm NBCSN
*Game 7…Friday June 11th…Islanders at Bruins…TBD
Bergeron’s face-off winning percentage has dipped to 53.43 in the playoffs while Casey Cizikas of the Islanders is at 61.53 percent and Pageau is at 55.22 percent. But the Islanders are still concerned that Bergeron will be up to his old tricks in game five.
“He’s a veteran guy who knows how to cheat on the face-offs,” said Trotz. “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 of the veteran guys are. He’s not the only one. Trust me.”
At this point, who wouldn’t trust Barry Trotz?