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Richards ready to face off against Bergeron

by Mike G. Morreale /
PHILADELPHIA -- Mike Richards believes home-ice advantage will not only give his club the benefit of the final line change, but an edge on faceoffs.

At least that's what he's hoping for. In Game 2 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal Monday, Boston Bruins' center Patrice Bergeron was a one-man wrecking crew on draws -- winning 16-of-22, or 73 percent. For the playoffs, Bergeron, who credits his junior coach at Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for transforming him into such a proficient faceoff specialist, is sixth in the League with a 58.8 percent success rate. He's won 104 of 177.

Bergeron basically had his way with Richards in Game 2. The Flyers' forward mustered only 5 of 21 faceoff wins, or 24 percent. The Flyers, who finished 41 percent on draws for the game, lost the contest, 3-2, to go down 2-0 in this best-of-series series that resumes Wednesday at Wachovia Center (7 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RDS).

"Obviously, being at home, the guy on the road has to put his stick down first, so you can't anticipate the puck coming down a little better, but I'm going to try to be ready for that and be sure I stay strong and try to adjust if I need to," Bergeron said.

Richards, who teamed with Bergeron to win a gold medal for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, said the Boston forward certainly knows how to cheat on draws.

"He's strong and gets enough respect to where he's allowed to cheat a little bit more," Richards said. "Faceoffs are all about who can cheat the most. Hey, I (cheat) too. I do it all the time. You look for the edge during faceoffs. The refs are doing a great job of letting us pause a little bit, but on home ice it's a lot easier.

"Everyone cheats on faceoffs," Richards said. "It's who can do it the best and there's a number of ways you can. On home ice, it's a lot easier to take face-offs then it is on the road and it's a lot easier to play with the puck, so hopefully we can use that to our advantage (on Wednesday)."

Bergeron, who finished the regular season fifth in the League with a 58-percent faceoff efficiency, said both he and Richards are trying to gain an edge prior to the puck being dropped.

"To be honest, we both have been trying to win our draws pretty clean but at the same time, that's what it's all about," Bergeron said. "It's about anticipating the drop of the puck well and … he's a good faceoff man. He's tough to beat but I'm just trying to win it. (Richards) is a smart player and he adjusts almost every five drops, so I guess you have to adjust if you want to win them."

Said Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger: "Winning faceoffs is not only important for puck possession, but line changes and matchups. It'll be very important for us (Wednesday night)."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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