TORONTO -- Bruins coach Claude Julien responded to accusations from Leafs coach Randy Carlyle and center Tyler Bozak that Bruins players are “cheating” during the face-offs, and he did so without even being prompted. Julien said it was the Leafs “lobbying” for favorable treatment from the referees, and basically termed it a case of Toronto “crying wolf.”
The Bruins won 45 of 75 face-offs in their 5-2 victory in Game 3 over the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley combined to win 22-of-26 face-offs and essentially guaranteed that the third line was going to start out with the puck on what should be a 50/50 proposition. Plus, one clean David Krejci win on a draw in the offensive zone over Jay McClement led directly to an Adam McQuaid goal.
Seeing Bozak get tossed out of the face-off circle put Toronto in full whine mode after Monday night’s game was over.
Everybody is clearly looking for an edge when it comes to taking face-offs in the playoffs, but Julien wasn’t getting into any of the gamesmanship on Tuesday afternoon.
“I’ve heard a lot about face-off issues. I’ve looked at the video too, and it is what it is. Guys are getting kicked out, or not getting kicked out. When you lobby for something, then you’re looking for a bit of a break in the next game,” said Julien. “That’s what Randy is doing right now. He’s lobbying for some breaks in the face-offs, and it will be interesting to see if the refs and the linesmen just do their jobs in the next game, and not worry about who is crying wolf.”
The Bruins were the top face-off team in the NHL this season with a 56.4 percent winning percentage, and they have the NHL’s top face-off man in Patrice Bergeron, who owns a winning percentage over 60 percent. The Leafs were mediocre on face-offs with a 50 percent winning rate during the regular season, and none of their pivots stand out as top-drawer draw men.
That's why Toronto is losing in the face-off circle, and it's why they are searching for excuses as those lost draws become so key as the series continues.