Patrice Bergeron hasn’t finished outside the NHL’s top 10 in faceoff percentage since 2010-11, so the Boston Bruins center knows a thing or two about draws.
Bergeron also is a consummate professional who rarely speaks out against anything that might be perceived as slightly controversial.
So it should raise some eyebrows across hockey that the B’s pivot wasted no time in criticizing the NHL’s new crackdown on faceoff violations. Bergeron voiced his displeasure with the league’s initiative moments after his first preseason game Thursday night.
“The faceoff is definitely an adjustment. I don’t see how they can keep that going,” Bergeron told reporters after the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win, per the Boston Herald. “(Taking) faceoffs is a skill and you work your whole career to develop that, work on your hand-eye and timing and everything and they’re trying to take that way. You have to adapt I guess and that’s something I’ll definitely do. But I don’t know if I’m a huge fan.”
For someone who quite literally has made a career out of skating his lane, that’s as peeved as you’ll hear Bergeron in public, but he wasn’t done there.
“I wonder really what they’re trying to get out of it. I understand it’s feet above those lines and the sticks, but that being said, it’s also common sense. Hockey’s a fast game, and right now they’re slowing it down.
“There are no battles right now. It’s all faceoffs like when I was 12 years old with everyone standing still and no one’s really moving.”
Bergeron isn’t alone in the Boston dressing room, either. Brad Marchand spoke out about the faceoff rule earlier this week and doubled down Thursday night, saying it’s “painful to be a part of.” According to Marchand, players were laughing on the ice about how ridiculous the initiative is.
The NHL preseason is but a week old, and we’ve already seen a handful of faceoff violation penalties across the league. It took the Bruins 5 minutes and 19 seconds to be assessed one against the Philadelphia Flyers; the call on Boston was one of three infractions across the league Thursday night.
That alone would interrupt the flow of the game, but it appears the NHL’s crackdown on slashing penalties will be an issue moving forward, too. There were six (!) slashing penalties called Thursday night in the Bruins-Flyers game. In fact, there were 13 stick-related penalties in that game alone.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images
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