Barry Trotz says Patrice Bergeron is cheating. Bergeron says Trotz is trying to influence the officials.

In a Bruins vs. Islanders series that’s been remarkably close, the rhetoric is on the rise. It’s a time-honored tradition as much a part of the game as playoff beards.

It probably started with Bruce Cassidy. After Saturday’s loss, the Bruins coach suggested to the media that his team wasn’t getting as many power plays as the actions within the game have warranted. Was he hoping the officials would hear his message?

On Sunday, Trotz suggested Bergeron’s faceoff prowess wasn’t entirely the result of outstanding skill. Was his mispronunciation an accident or a tweak?

“I think Bergy’s (he pronounced it Ber-Jee) been a really good faceoff guy, one of the best,” Trotz said speaking to the media, but maybe not just the media. He said the Islanders’ centers “all study what (Bergeron) does. The biggest thing with Bergy, and really linesmen can control this, is he doesn’t like to get his stick down. He has to come to a stop, and then you have a fair fight. 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. But he’s very good, he’s very capable, and he’s been a top centerman and faceoff guy for a long time.”

Curiously, Trotz made his comments in a series where Bergeron, who led the league in faceoff win percentage during the regular season, is struggling on draws. Through four games against the Islanders, Bergeron is uncharacteristically below .500 at 37-44 (45.7 percent).

Naturally, Bergeron was asked about Trotz’s accusation and the recently named Selke finalist didn’t get defensive. Perhaps trying to use his comments to influence the officials to not be influenced by Trotz’s comments, Bergeron volleyed back without admitting or denying any faceoff gamesmanship.

“He said it was a veteran play? I think it’s a veteran play by him as a coach to talk to try to get the linesmen and the officiating to think about it,” Bergeron said.

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