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Matt Cooke press conference, 3/18

03.18.10 at 9:36 pm ET
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Matt Cooke spoke to a crowd of media following the Penguins‘ 3-0 win over the Bruins on Thursday night.

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Bruins blanked by Penguins

03.18.10 at 8:33 pm ET
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Summary – In one of the most anticipated games of the season, the Bruins got their revenge but ended up losing the contest as the Penguins beat Boston 3-0 at TD Garden on Thursday. Tuukka Rask started and took the loss for the Bruins with 28 saves while Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 33rd win of the year by stopping 17 pucks.

Boston got the dramatic bits out of the way early when Shawn Thornton threw down the gloves against Matt Cooke on Cooke’s first shift of the game at 1:58 in the first period. The retribution by Thornton was the Bruins initial response for Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard on March 7 that left the center with a Grade 2 concussion. Savard will miss the rest of the year.

After that, it was time to play hockey.

Tyler Kennedy got the Penguins on the board first when he took the puck on the rush down the right wing and beat Rask high for the early goal advantage. It was Kennedy’s 10th goal of the year with the helpers coming from Ruslan Fedotenko and Brooks Orpik at 8:34.

Boston took three penalties in the second period and were able to kill them all but the momentum shifted in the direction of the Penguins who outshot the Bruins 15-5 in the frame. Pittsburgh broke through with an even-strength goal by Alexei Ponikarovsky with 14.1 seconds left to take a two-goal advantage into the third period.

Pittsburgh made it 3-0 when Michael Rupp beat Rask far side at 5:14 in the third to put the Bruins away for good.

Three Stars

Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender did not need to stop many pucks against the Bruins, but he ended up stopping enough to his his 33rd victory of the year.

Alexei Ponikarovsky — Pittsburgh acquired the scoring forward at the trade deadline and he scored the separation goal for the Penguins with his 21st in the second period.

Michael Rupp — The center got in a fight with Zdeno Chara and scored the Penguins third goal of the game in the third period to seal the Bruins fate.

Turning Point — The ways things go for the Bruins offense, the first goal that Rask allowed was the one that broke their back. The emotion of Thornton’s fight against Cooke had worn off and when regular hockey activities commenced Boston found itself outmatched. Kennedy got the strike with a rush down the right wing that was fed by Fedotenko. Rask could not follow the quick shot that Kennedy let go and the Penguins had the lead and never looked back.

Key Play — It may not have been the key play to the game, but Thornton tracking down Cooke for the retribution fight on Cooke’s first shift of the game was essential for Boston’s reputation with its fans and within the NHL. Cooke jumped the boards for his shift at 1:56 in the first period and Thornton had his glove off and ready for the fisticuffs by 1:58, showing that he was going to waste no time in getting the matter over with. Cooke got the first few punches in on Thornton but the Bruins enforcer scored the next couple of hits and pulled Cooke’s sweater over his head that brought the forward to his knees. Thornton took the fighting major as well as a 10-minute misconduct.

Read More: Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Cooke, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask

Second period summary: Bruins-Penguins

03.18.10 at 7:47 pm ET
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The second period started with the Bruins holding on by a thread.

Vladimir Sobotka went to the penalty box at 2:22 for a hooking penalty. Out came one of the best penalty killing tandems in the league in the form of Daniel Paille and Steve Begin along with defensemen Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg. Normally a team will role out two penalty killing units on a power play with the first unit the best killers and the second unit efficient killers who can create an odd-man break when given the opportunity.

Boston never got the second unit on the ice.

It was more like Pittsburgh never let them off the ice. The full two minutes was spent in Boston’s defensive zone as the Penguins rained shots on Tuukka Rask. The young goaltender was up to it and proved to be the best penalty killer the Bruins had on the shift even as Pittsburgh dumped 10 shots on net (to the Bruins zero) in the first five minutes of the period.

Boston got its third chance on the power play at 7:37 when Sergei Gonchar took at tripping call. Once again the Bruins mustered next to nothing.

The second fight of the night broke out at 11:53 when captain Zdeno Chara went toe-to-toe with center Michael Rupp right after a face off. Chara got the best of Rupp in the captain’s first official fight of the season.

Seven-seconds after Chara went to the box, fellow defenseman Mark Stuart joined him with a hooking penalty at 12:00. That left the Bruins without two of their top three defensemen for an extended period of time. Once again, Rask stepped up and killed the penalty for the Boston.

The third time was the charm though. Pittsburgh got another shot on the power play at 17:44 when Steve Begin went for “kneeing” (a trip, more or less). Pittsburgh went through the normal routine — set up camp in the Boston zone, cycle, shoot, rebound, cycle, shoot. Right after the penalty ended the puck ended up on the stick of Kris Letang at the top of the left circle. He shot and it was deflected five-hole through Rask by Alexei Ponikarovsky for the two-goal lead.

Shots through second (total):

Bruins — 5 (10)

Penguins 15 (20)

Read More: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mark Stuart, Michael Rupp, Tuukka Rask

Thornton vs. Cooke photo gallery

03.18.10 at 7:41 pm ET
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The much-anticipated Bruins-Penguins game has begun, and it didn’t take long for a fight to break out. Matt Cooke and Shawn Thornton squared off just 1:58 into the first period. Check out the photo gallery to see it all unfold.

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First period summary: Bruins-Penguins

03.18.10 at 6:54 pm ET
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It took all of two seconds.

That would be the amount of time that Matt Cooke was on the ice before Bruins forward Shawn Thornton tracked him down and signaled for a fight. Cooke jumped the boards for his first shift at 1:56 and skated to across the ice towards his defensive zone corner. Thorton came straight at him and let him know that he was on his way and they dropped gloves and circled each other. Cooke got the first couple of punches before Thornton went in with as much vigor as has been seen from him this year, registering a couple hits to the head and then pulling his sweater over his head. When the referees pulled the enforcer off of Cooke he was still visibly upset and was restrained as Cooke made his way to the box for the five-minute fighting major. Thornton received the five-minute fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct for instigating the fight.

Then there was hockey to be played and when it comes to that, the Penguins tend to fare better than the Bruins this season.

Pittsburgh scored the first goal of the game at 8:34 when Tyler Kennedy beat Tuukka Rask on a wrist shot on a rush down the right wing. It was Kennedy’s 10th of the year and the Penguins had the early lead.

Like the last time the teams played (March 7 in Pittsburgh), Boston had a couple of power play opportunities to get on the board in the first period. The first came at 5:36 when the Penguins were called for too many men on the ice, served by Kennedy. The second came, much to the delight of the TD Garden crowd, against Cooke at 12:52 when he side-swiped defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on the end boards behind Rask for a tripping penalty.

Just like March 7, Boston could do nothing with the man-advantage.

Outside of Thornton’s retribution and Kennedy’s goal, the play was even through much of the period but the Penguins will begin the second with a goal advantage.

Shots through first:

Boston – 5

Pittsburgh — 5

Read More: Matt Cooke, Shawn Thornton, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Kennedy

Orr on focusing on Cooke: ‘That’s silly’

03.18.10 at 5:04 pm ET
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Before and after Thursday’s game against the Penguins the Bruins will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup champions team. Many of the major alumni from the era are in attendance at TD Garden and were made available to the media in an afternoon session in the executive suite on the second level of the stadium. Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Dallas Smith and Fred Stanfield, among others were in attendance to rehash the memories of that great Bruins team.

Yet, the members of the last great Bruins dynasty could not completely escape the drama that the current incarnation in embroiled in. For the most part they were diplomatic and are trying not to stoke the fire and the media did its best to keep the topic on 1970 as opposed to 2010.

“Just getting together and seeing the guys again is really what it is all about,” Orr said. “I have to thank the Bruins for doing this. They have really been first class.”

Orr was bullish on the notion that the 1970 team would still be a great squad even in the current era of the NHL.

“We had a pretty good hockey team,” Orr said. “If you look at our lines they would be a pretty good team today too. We were pretty close. I don’t believe we had any ego problems or anything like that and we knew it was more fun to win than to lose and we loved to win hockey games … we didn’t need anyone else taking care of our problems, we could care of those ourselves.”

The group of reporters around Orr held out questions about Matt Cooke and the Penguins for about six minutes before finally succumbing to the temptation to ask one of the greatest hockey player of all time what he thinks about the situation. He reiterated what the current players said earlier Thursday — it is about the two points and to make it a point to go after Cooke would be “silly.”

“The Bruins have to go out tonight and play. It is two points, they are in a fight. And the Penguins are struggling a little bit. First of all I think that it is going to be a heck of a hockey game. It would be silly for the Bruins that their key thing to be to go after a player,” Orr said. “That’s silly. It would be a silly thing to do, it would be a silly thing for all of us. I was listening to a talk show coming in and the fan was ‘you got to do this, you got to do that, you got to take [Sidney] Crosby out.’ Come on. That is silly.”

Orr did express his opinion on the nature of the hit and what he thinks of Marc Savard.

“In my mind, it was an illegal hit. In my mind, a player like Marc Savard, who is a great hockey player, you bump him, you grind him, you get in his way. But, he is a player that you don’t run over like that. There were periods where that was understood that,” Orr said. “It would be like like me, during my time, running over Jean Beliveau from behind or blindsiding him. You just don’t do that. I was a pain in the you know what, so I was hit a lot. I would hit so I am going to get hit back but Marc, you just don’t do that to him.”

Orr was asked if the rules changes between his era and the current era has led to more hits like the Cooke’s on Savard but understands that the players cannot be given free reign over vigilante justice.

“The rules are pretty strict on things like that. I believe that if they let the players police it for a little while everyone will soon understand but I am not sure they will let them do that,” Orr said.

Read More: Bobby Orr, Marc Savard, Matt Cooke,

Brickley on D&C: Cooke will be dealt with

03.18.10 at 3:07 pm ET
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When Penguins forward Matt Cooke hit Marc Savard on March 7, he took Boston’€™s top playmaker out for the remainder of the 2009-10 season. But there was no response to Cooke from the B’s players on the ice.

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley said he thinks the Penguins won’€™t be so lucky tonight.

‘€œI’€™m around this team all the time, they have good conviction, they do stand up for one another, and when they play physical and when they play tough, they’€™re a good team, and they still have some skill that makes them a threat in the Eastern Conference.’€

Brickley caught up with the guys on Dennis & Callahan to hit on all things Savard and Cooke, addressing how he thinks the Bruins will respond, when they’€™ll respond, and why, as a team, they have to respond.

‘€œWell, [if they don'€™t respond], it says that they wouldn’€™t be a team, that they don’€™t have each others’ backs. That we’€™re a weak team, and we’€™re very vulnerable, and teams like that don’€™t exist, they don’€™t last very long.’€

Read below for a transcript. To hear the interview, click here.

Is it more important for the Bruins to make a point tonight to the league or score some points against the Penguins?

Well, no question they need points, given the situation they’€™re in, in the Eastern Conference. But that will be secondary tonight, this is an opportunity to respond, something they didn’€™t do at the time, when Marc Savard was hit by Matt Cooke, and they will take every opportunity to make sure their character is no longer in question.

Will this just be the Bruins taking the body all night tonight, or will there be a line of Boston tough guys lining up to drop the gloves with this guy?

My expectation is that, and if I was Danny Bylsma the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, I would make sure Matt Cooke starts tonight. Don’€™t give it a chance to continue to percolate, wait for this first shift, and allow the crowd and everybody else to get behind this. I would start him, put him on the first shift, and I would expect Boston to line up guys like [Zdeno] Chara and [Milan] Lucic and [Mark] Stuart, and make sure it’€™s a very long night for Matt Cooke. You almost feel like, don’€™t suspend this guy, make him have to play the whole game, he can’€™t take any shifts off, he has to play the full 60 minutes, that might be the best retribution that you can put on the ice.

So what happens after the puck drops ‘€” or will it even drop before something happens?

Well, this is all speculation, but I think, first of all the puck has to drop, or you get in more problems with the league. But, yeah, you call him out. It’€™s very plain and simple. Whoever lines up against him, you want to make it the longest night possible for him. The analogy is the whole Mike Richards hit on David Booth, that is the lightening rod that has been all the discussion with hits to the head all year long after that hit. What happened after that hit? Did Florida respond, was there a five-on-five brawl, was that frontier justice, to steal a line from Jack Edwards, in play ‘€” that didn’€™t happen. But it was the ensuing game when things needed to be addressed. And they were addressed. And Mike Richards went out on the ice, expected to be challenged, was challenged, and once he stood up for himself, and once they got through that and things were settled, everybody was pleased with how it was handled.

Any chance we sit here tomorrow and say boy, nothing happened last night?

No, I don’€™t think we’€™ll have that conversation tomorrow.

What if he chooses not to fight?

I’€™m not sure. That would not be the best course of action for Matt Cooke, and I don’€™t expect that to happen, and I don’€™t think that will be allowed to happen. This is a guy that plays on the edge, he’€™s a repeat offender, if you take a look at the list of guys that he’€™s fought in his career, its not a who’€™s who list of tough guys in the NHL, but I don’€™t think that’€™s going to happen.

Do the Bruins feel bad about their lack of response on the night it happened?

I think so. I think so, if you go back to that night in Pittsburgh, I know Jack didn’€™t see it, I saw it out of the corner of my eye because we were following the puck. I talked to other people that were broadcasting the game, they didn’€™t see it.

Michael Ryder saw it.

Michael did see it. And he did go over and try to do what he did to Matt Cooke, but if you talk to the players on the ice, it was one of those situations, one-goal game, they need the points, nobody got a real good look at it outside of Michael Ryder, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt that it didn’€™t happen, there was no immediate response. I brought up the Florida and Philadelphia situation for that reason. Sometimes you just don’€™t see it if you’€™re on the ice, I know in the old days, well, contact, your player goes down, there was an immediate response, that’€™s the way the game was, it’€™s not like that anymore.

So the self-policing rules have changed a bit since you used to play?

Oh absolutely. And they have to revisit this whole instigator penalty, until they change that, nothing will change. And the league has some black eyes they have to address, and this is definitely one of them. Hopefully they will, because they got it wrong, plain and simple. This was a blind-side hit to a defenseless player in a position where he had no idea the hit was coming. It was predatory in nature, he targeted the head, and he’€™s a repeat offender ‘€” how can you not suspend this guy? And I don’€™t understand the logic behind it, they had an opportunity to make a difference, to make the right call, and they didn’€™t do it. Again, I will reference the Richards hit on Booth, when that happened, they said we have to take a look at this. And there’€™s been hits to the head after that, where there’€™s been no penalties on the play, no priors, I’€™ll use Curtis Glencross’€™s hit on Chris Drury, no priors, yet they suspended him because it was a hit to the head, something they have to address. Now, they have a chance to really lay the law and change the rule, say this was intent to injure, and they drop the ball.

But the irony would be if Michael Ryder had done something about it, he might get suspended instead. That’€™s sick.

Yeah, that’€™s true. You know, that’€™s why I said, this is, and I’€™ll steal another line from Jack Edwards, dartboard justice, there’€™s no logic, and there’€™s no reasoning sufficient for me to be able to understand the rules that come down from the office in New York. And Colin Campbell is going to be in attendance tonight, and the two teams will be addressed, and there will be warnings put out, they created this culture. They created it. And now they want to manage it, and I think it’€™s up to the Bruins to handle it themselves.

Is there any chance Sidney Crosby or [Evgeni] Malkin pays the price for this?

That’€™s the other layer of this. We’€™ve already talked about the five-on-five brawl that might have ensued years ago. I know, when I broke into the league back in the early ’80s, when your good players were targeted, OK, you might want to go after the guys that targeted your good guys, but you went after their skill guys ‘€” that’€™s the way it works. And, I think that’€™s part of the message that needs to be sent in Pittsburgh. That if Matt Cooke isn’€™t going to be suspended, and everybody wants to focus their attention on Matt Cooke, the other layer is then lets focus on their skill guys. Apparently it’€™s OK to go predatory in nature and target head hits on skill guys because the league’€™s saying it’€™s OK.

When Savard walks into the locker room again, will there be a chill between him and Michael Ryder?

Nothing will change there, they’€™ll still be very good teammates, they will understand the situation, that will not be a problem. I think if the situation just goes away tonight and there’€™s no response by Boston as a team, then you would have a problem, but that won’€™t happen.

If the Bruins chose to do nothing tonight, that sends a message ‘€” what is that message?

Well, it says that they wouldn’€™t be a team, that they don’€™t have each others’ backs. That we’€™re a weak team, and we’€™re very vulnerable, and teams like that don’€™t exist, they don’€™t last very long. They don’€™t make playoffs, they don’€™t have deep playoff runs. I’€™m playing along, but that’€™s not going to happen. I’€™m around this team all the time, they have good conviction, they do stand up for one another, and when they play physical and when they play tough, they’€™re a good team, and they still have some skill that makes them a threat in the Eastern Conference. I know there’€™s been a lot of talk about the Dallas game last year and how much that brought that group together when things got a little nasty out there with Avery, but this is an opportunity for them tonight, and they will seize it.

So if he fights, who does he fight?

Who will relish the opportunity? Certainly Milan Lucic is on the roster, Mark Stuart is in the mix, Zdeno Chara is along there ‘€” you look at your leaders and your tough guys and guys that can handle the situation to be at the top of the list, but it could be anybody, it’€™s the ultimate team sport. There’€™s 20 guys in the lineup.

Claude Julian was uncomfortably calm after this incident, is he that way behind closed doors?

No. You try to know your audience, you try to get certain results depending on who you’€™re talking to. You know, what do I need out of this situation and what’€™s my best tact, he’€™s very smart that way. You definitely know who’€™s boss over there, he has a firm hand, he knows when the team needs a good, swift kick, and at that time, he tried to control his emotions. And he did hope, as did I, as did everybody, that the league would handle it properly, and they didn’€™t. So, my anticipation is that Claude will have no problem with his teams’€™ emotions tonight.

So what he said in public might not be what they’€™re saying in the locker room ‘€” does that go for Lucic when he said, ‘€œRight now we’€™re in a dog-fight to stay in a playoff position, right now that’€™s what’€™s on our minds. Savvy would be a lot happier if we just got a win against Pittsburgh.’€

Well I think that’€™s been the message coming from inside the locker room ever since the Pittsburgh game.

Tell me he doesn’€™t mean it, though.

Well, you know, read between the lines, and I think actions speak a whole lot louder than words. And I can appreciate that sentiment coming from the Bruins, saying that it’€™s all about points and wins will be retribution enough, but I think we know better.

Does this start to unfold drop of the puck, first shift, first period?

I’€™m hopeful Matt Cooke starts the game, I think it’€™s the smartest move that Pittsburgh can make, I think that’€™s what Dan Bylsma will do. That is my expectation, that it will happen early, they’€™ll want to try to get it out of the way, not let it build into a frenzy. Pittsburgh, you know lost last night against New Jersey, they’€™re slipping in the standings, and I think this situation has also been on their radar ever since the Cooke hit on Savard.

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