TORONTO – A mini-war of words is brewing between the two head coaches, Randy Carlyle and Claude Julien, in regards to the face-off circle.
Not only did the Bruins emerge with a spirited Game 3 victory on Monday night – now leading the best-of-7 series 2-1 – but they also decisively won the battle on the draw, emerging with a 60 per cent success rate, including a 71 per cent mark in the defensive zone.
Their tactics, however, and those of the officials, proved unsatisfying to Carlyle and the Leafs, the coach voicing his distaste with the situation after the defeat and again on Tuesday.
"Specifically when you're at home, you think that you would be afforded some of the staples of the opposition having to be down first and stop," Carlyle said, referencing the multiple instances of his centres being thrown from the circle. "In our review, there was some things that were going on out there that we don't agree with..."
"I've heard a lot about the face-off issue," Julien responded forcefully minutes later. "I've looked at the video, too and it is what it is; guys getting kicked out, not getting kicked out. When you lobby for something, it's because you're looking for a bit of a break next game and that's what Randy's doing right now, he's lobbying for some breaks on the face-offs.
"It's going to be interesting to see whether the referees and the linesmen just do their job and not worry about who's crying wolf."
In conversation with the officials in between periods, Carlyle was told his "guys were impeding on the circle".
"He stated it was supposed to be 'visitor down, home down, puck down' and that clearly was not happening as per video," Carlyle stated.
Tyler Bozak, the Leafs best (53 per cent) and most prominently used centre, was tossed from the circle with growing frequency in Game 3, his frustration growing as the night wore on.
"Both sides were cheating pretty hard in the circle and I was getting caught more than [the opponent]," he said on Tuesday.
Bozak aired his dissatisfaction with the ongoing proceedings in conversation with the officials.
"I just wanted to ask him what I needed to change to stay in there a little longer and try and make it as fair as possible," Bozak recalled. "It was quite a few times early in the game where I got kicked out."
He and the Leafs dropped 24 of 34 draws in the Bruins zone and 45 of 75 total with Patrice Bergeron (12-20), Chris Kelly (12-15) and Rich Peverley (10-11) owning the circle and only David Krejci (6-18) proving beatable. Mikhail Grabovski was the lone Toronto pivot to find any kind of success, the 29-year-old emerging on 11 of 20 total draws, ahead of Bozak (12-29), Nazem Kadri (3-12) and Jay McClement (1-5).
The Bruins were the number one face-off team in the NHL during the regular season, Bergeron (tops at 62 per cent) and Krejci (55 per cent) both amongst the elite.
Boston has won 58 per cent of the draws so far this series.