Islanders Looking For A “Fair Fight” When It Comes To Face-Offs

Photo by Peter Schwartz

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.

UNIONDALE, NY – JUNE 03: Boston Bruins Center Patrice Bergeron (37) skates with the puck with New York Islanders Center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) in pursuit during the second period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round between the Boston Bruins and the New York Islanders on June 3, 2021, at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY. (Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire)

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

 *If Necessary

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?

About the Author

Peter Schwartz

Peter Schwartz is a contributor covering the Islanders for NY Sports Day while also writing about general sports in the New York/New Jersey area. In addition to his column, Peter also hosts his “Schwartz On Sports” podcast as he interviews players, coaches, and other sports personalities. He is also currently a sports anchor for WFAN Radio, CBS Sports Radio, and WCBS 880 radio while also serving as the public address announcer for the New York Cosmos soccer club.

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