BOSTON –- If the ability to win a faceoff on a consistent basis is an art form, then Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is Picasso.
Bergeron went 16-for-22 on puck drops in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night at the Garden. He went 9-for-9 in the first period and was 14-for-17 after two periods.
Bergeron spreads his legs, gets really low and uses his quick hands and power to win faceoffs time and again. Early in the game on Monday, one of his wins turned into Boston’s first goal. With the drop to the right of Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, Bergeron won the puck directly back to defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who stepped into a shot that found the back of the net at 5:12 for the first period.
“He’s been great. He won that one back and I just stepped into it,” said Boychuk. “He wins key faceoffs and he’s doing a great job for us.”
Boychuk didn’t get a clean look at the shot, and didn’t think it was going in.
“Nope,” he said with a laugh. “I just wanted to get it off as soon as possible. I just wanted to get it off my stick because they have been doing a good job blocking shots.”
The always-humbled Bergeron isn’t about to take credit for his ability to win puck drops, but coach Claude Julien has no trouble praising his centerman.
“He’s been good for us all year,” said Julien. “That’s something he’s been well known for. Obviously on the [Canadian] Olympic team, that’s one of the reasons they took him. They thought he was great on faceoffs and could bring that element. What you see is what you get out of Bergy every night. He takes a lot of pride about being dominant in the faceoff circle. That’s an important part of the game that sometimes gets underestimated.”
Bergeron frequently works on his faceoffs during practice and he showcased that prowess in Game 2.
“I take a lot of pride in that,” he said. “We were fortunate enough to get that first goal off the faceoff. It’s something I’ve always taken pride in. Luckily we got that goal, but I have to keep going.”