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Jokinen mindful of Bruins' proficiency on faceoffs

by Chris Adamski

PITTSBURGH -- Jussi Jokinen took a moment early Thursday afternoon to accuse many of the Boston Bruins of cheating.

That's OK. He admires them for it -- and takes pride in himself for being able to cheat too.

Boston leads the Stanley Cup Playoffs in faceoff percentage, having won 57.5 percent of its draws heading into the Eastern Conference Final, which begins 8 p.m. Saturday at Consol Energy Center against the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, RDS).

Jokinen is Pittsburgh's best faceoff man at 63.9 percent in the postseason. He has appeared in six of the Penguins' 11 playoff games; of players who have taken at least 92 faceoffs this postseason, the Bruins have the top three players in the NHL.

Patrice Bergeron is winning 63.5 percent of his faceoffs, Chris Kelly 63.4 percent and Rich Peverley 63.0.

Talking with a smile and in a tone that was nothing but respect, Jokinen offered why those three are so successful.

"Lots of times, whoever's best on the faceoffs is whoever finds a way to cheat," Jokinen said. "Who cheats the most so they don't get thrown out.

"It's such a fine line finding out how much you can cheat -- some linesmen let you cheat a little more than others, and Bergeron is one of those guys who does that stuff pretty good and the linesmen let him do that stuff."

Bergeron was the NHL's top faceoff man during the regular season at 62.1 percent. The Bruins led the League in that category (56.4 percent) with the Penguins placing seventh (51.1). Pittsburgh has fallen off to 50.1 in the postseason, ranking eighth among the 16 playoff teams.

That's one of the reasons Jokinen -- acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline -- earns a spot in the lineup for the Penguins. During the regular season, Sidney Crosby was the Penguins' best faceoff player at 54.3 percent.

"I always take lots of pride winning faceoffs this time of year," Jokinen said. "Puck possession is huge, and if you're going to get possession, every draw -- especially in the defensive zone -- is very important."

Jokinen studies the tendencies of opponents' faceoff abilities, reciting as far back as the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals when he played for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Bruins. Jokinen said the Bruins will utilize players who are on their strong side as much as possible, pending where the faceoff is.

"In the playoffs, everything's more important," Jokinen said. "You study more, and everyone studies more. Boston has a few guys who are really good."

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