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Bruins enjoy advantage in faceoff circle

by Shawn P. Roarke /

PITTSBURGH -- Though there are many areas in which the top-seeded Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have an advantage in this Eastern Conference Final, the faceoff circle is not one of them.

The fourth-seeded Boston Bruins have dominated draws throughout the postseason, topping the League with a 57.5 success rate. Pittsburgh is at 50. 1 percent.

This could be a key area because if Boston can start with possession of the puck on a regular basis after play stoppages, Pittsburgh's skill players will have to expend more energy trying to regain possession. That means less time spent generating offense.

Part of the reason Boston is so good in the faceoff circle is that they have so many quality options. Five players have taken 90 or more draws for the Bruins during their 12-game postseason run. Almost all have been phenomenally successful.

Patrice Bergeron has taken the most, 252, and has won a whopping 63.5 percent of them. Chris Kelly has taken 112 and won 63.4 percent. Rich Peverley has taken 92 and won 63 percent, and Gregory Campbell has taken 90 and won 54.4 percent. David Krejci, the team's No. 2 faceoff man, is the one below 50 percent, having won 78 of the 167 faceoffs he has contested, for a 46.7 percent success rate.

Coach Claude Julien uses his faceoff wealth in many ways, often sending players out with different lines to take faceoffs and playing to the strengths of his centermen's strong sides

"Well, ideally you always like to have those options," Julien said. "Doesn't mean you always have them, but it's been great that way. We have a lot of guys that are good on draws, but not just guys that are playing center, guys that are also wingers. Peverley is one of those guys that is really good on faceoffs, as well, and he plays a wing. [Tyler] Seguin is very capable, and if you've watched guys like [Milan] Lucic and stuff like that, they are not bad either.

"So we have got some guys that really take a lot of pride in that and for me it's always been an important part of the game to start with the puck. By winning draws, that's exactly what happens."

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