What's a Stanley Cup Playoff series without a little gamesmanship?
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz raised a few eyebrows Sunday by suggesting that Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron gains an unfair advantage on faceoffs.
"Bergy’s a really good faceoff guy -- one of the best," Trotz told reporters a day after the Islanders' Game 4 victory, which evened the second-round series at 2-2. "I think (the Islanders' centers) all study what he does. The biggest thing with Bergy, and really linesmen can control this, is he doesn’t like to get his stick down. 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. I’m relying on our very capable officiating crew and linesmen 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."
That's a pretty clear call-out of Bergeron, but the Bruins captain didn't seem fazed when asked about Trotz's comments. In fact, he seemed well aware of what the Islanders coach was trying to do.
"I think [Trotz] said it was a veteran play. I think it’s a veteran play by him as a coach to try to get the officiating and the linesmen to think about it," Bergeron told reporters Monday.
You'll notice Bergeron didn't deny Trotz's accusation -- he added that he plans to focus on what he can control -- but he clearly understands the game Trotz is playing to try to alert the refs to any foul play in the faceoff circle.
Ironically, Bergeron has actually struggled on faceoffs of late, winning only 53.4% of his draws in the 2021 playoffs and just 45.7% of faceoffs against the Islanders after posting a 62.2% success rate in the regular season. So, perhaps Trotz is trying to play mind games with the veteran center, as well.
Trotz and Bergeron both have been around the block a few times -- the former has been coaching since 1999, while the latter has been playing since 2003 -- so this exchange isn't all that surprising as their teams look for any edge they can get in this series.
Game 5 is set for 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday at TD Garden with the series tied at 2-2.