BOSTON -- Bruins centerman Patrice Bergeron dominates in the faceoff circle.
He leads the NHL with a 62.1 percent success rating in that category, while Nashville’s Paul Gaustad ranks second at 60.7 percent. Bergeron has tremendous hand-eye coordination and studies his craft by watching video -- always focusing on the tendencies of other centermen in the league.
“He’s just a committed guy,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “Everybody has a certain strength on faceoffs. For some it’s quickness, for some it’s strength, eye-puck coordination. He’s really good. He’s a strong faceoff guy, so a lot of times he’ll win by strength determination. He’s got a real good eye when it comes to when to put his stick down. He’s an elite faceoff guy.”
While Bergeron (401-for-646) has a better percentage rating, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby has taken a total of 820 faceoffs this season and he’s won the drop 445 times. Crosby also ranks first in even-strength faceoffs won with 317. Bergeron follows with 315. On the power play, Crosby ranks first (97-for-171), while Bergeron (36-for-61) is 26th in that category.
Even before Bergeron earned a spot on the Bruins’ roster as an 18-year-old out of training camp in 2003, he worked hard in that area of his game.
“I’ve always taken a lot of pride in it,” Bergeron said. “Earlier in my career, I wasn’t as good.”
During Monday’s 3-2 shootout win against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Bergeron went 19-for-28 in faceoffs.
“He’s just a smart guy and he’s strong on his stick, and even sometimes when you’re looking to just tie up his stick and make it a foot battle, it seems like he’s always winning those as well,” said the Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri.
Bergeron’s not the only centermen on the Bruins with the ability to win drops. David Krejci (56.5 percent) is ranked 11th, and Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly (currently out with a broken left tibia) and Gregory Campbell are all strong in that area.
“That’s what we’ve talked about as a team. You see us practicing faceoffs almost every day,” Julien said. “We stay on top of that because we feel it’s an important element to our game. You’re a lot better controlling the puck than having to chase it.”