Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Patrice Bergeron shutting down Sidney Crosby? Don't hold your breath.

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

There's no question that the Patrice Bergeron vs. Sidney Crosby matchup is one of the top story lines of the Eastern Conference Finals.  Bergeron is a really good player, he's clutch, and he's exceptional on face-offs.  As Puck Daddy pointed out, "Bergeron has given Crosby fits in the face-off circle in the past" (and it linked to this old story).

But other than in the face-off circle, has Bergeron ever given Crosby fits in anything else?  We decided to take a look at their head-to-head history ... and we found that one guy has a decided advantage.  A very decided advantage.

Read on to find out who...

Crosby and Bergeron have matched up 18 times.  The results are pretty clear.

For the image impaired, here are the highlights:

- Crosby is 10-8 overall against Bergeron, but 10-3 in the last 13.

- Crosby has more than twice as many points as Bergeron (27 to 13).  We know Bergeron isn't the offensive dynamo that Sid is, but for a guy who is going to be tasked with "shutting down" Crosby, he's allowed Sid to put up 1.5 points per game in their head-to-head match-ups.  That's a 123-point pace.  Or another way to put it, that would be more points than Crosby has ever scored in the regular season.

- Crosby is a +12.  Bergeron is a -8.

- Crosby has been a minus player 4 times in the 18 games. Bergeron has been a plus player 4 times in the 18 games.

- Crosby has put up three points 7 times.

This is not to take anything away from Bergeron.  As we said, he's a very good player and seems like one of those guys who will be better in the playoffs than in the regular season.  But Crosby is an exceptional player.

So the real question about this match-up is not be whether Sidney Crosby can overcome the Bergeron line.  It's whether Patrice Bergeron can live up to his billing as the top defensive forward in hockey, or will Sidney Crosby continue to dominate him?*

*JINX Disclaimer: We accept no responsibility if this post jinxes everything.


  1. Interesting stuff.

    That said, I wouldn't minimize the significance of the faceoff numbers, especially against a team that depends so much on their forecheck. At least getting the guard off of his mask should help some.

    I also would point out that Sid has had one big game against Boston post-concussion - after the 2nd comeback last year, if my dates are right. It isn't like Bergeron is the same player he was in 2007.

    But really - it isn't just about Bergeron anyway: it's the combination of Chara, Seidenberg, and Bergeron. And since Geno didn't play any of the games against Boston this year, Sid has gotten everything they could throw at him. If this is still the approach Julien takes, I think it will be 12-71-18 that look really good, while Sid eats up the hardest minutes with a bit less output (just like last series). Or perhaps CJ will try divvy things - give Sid Bergeron and make Geno deal with Chara. We'll see. Either way, I think it's advantage Pens.

    1. Julien split up Chara and Seidenberg at practice. Kunitz's health will be key to chopping down Chara like a big oak tree.

    2. You're right, Brandy. It's advantage Pens either way.

      If the Pens can get any offensive contribution from the bottom 6, it's going to be very difficult for Boston to keep pace. Bruins need to win the bottom 6 match-up.

  2. It's crazy to think about how many Players in this series have suffered multiple concussions. Crosby, bergeron, Horton, letang and let's not forget savard.

  3. The home and last change advantage seem to have an effect in this analysis. Crosby only scored 1/3 of his points in this matchup when the Pens played in Boston, despite 8 of the 18 games being there. Might not mean anything, but will be interesting to watch in the series.

    Bylsma might not even try and keep Sid from Bergeron if Geno's line is producing.

    1. Good point.

      Here's to home-ice advantage.

  4. how'd that work out for ya :)