|03.21.11 at 5:26 pm ET|
The NHL announced Monday Penguins forward Matt Cooke has been suspended for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs for an elbow on Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh that took place Sunday. It is the fourth suspension of Cooke’s career, and second of this season.
“Mr. Cooke, a repeat offender, directly and unnecessarily targeted the head of an opponent who was in an unsuspecting and vulnerable position,” Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said following the ruling. “This isn’t the first time this season that we have had to address dangerous behavior on the ice by Mr. Cooke, and his conduct requires an appropriately harsh response.”
The Penguins weren’t looking too good when Mario Lemieux, who employs Cooke, complained about dirty play following the team’s game against the Islanders last month. This time around, the Pittsburgh organization wants to make sure everyone knows where they stand.
‘The suspension is warranted because that’s exactly the kind of hit we’re trying to get out of the game,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said in a statement Monday. “Head shots have no place in hockey. We’ve told Matt in no uncertain terms that this kind of action on the ice is unacceptable and cannot happen. Head shots must be dealt with severely, and the Pittsburgh Penguins support the NHL in sending this very strong message.’
Cooke has long been criticized as one of the league’s dirtier players, and was responsible for a blindside hit last March that has left Bruins center Marc Savard with concussion issues. Savard is currently out for the season after a routine hit from Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick caused another concussion from which he is still recovering.
|03.21.11 at 1:16 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — When Claude Julien put Tim Thomas back in to start the third period against the Maple Leafs Saturday night, the logical reason as to why was because of Tuukka Rask‘s latest display of frustration. After Rask, who came in with over 11 minutes remaining in the second period in relief of Thomas, allowed the game’s fifth goal, he was visibly infuriated with defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who screened him on the play.
Julien has maintained that the move was not disciplinary, and that it was because Thomas wanted to go back out. Monday, he shed light on Rask’s behavior on the ice.
“I don’t support that,” Julien said. “I don’t think anybody supports that, including him. Sometimes frustration sets in, you see players breaking their sticks after a goal against or something. You see them putting their heads up in the air after they miss an open net. There’s a frustration point, so I’m certainly not going to stand here and start accusing him of that, but it’s something you don’t want to see from anybody because it has a big impact on your team.
“Having said that, I think Tuukka’s aware of that, and if anything, he’s been playing some of his best hooky lately, so I don’t think there’s any need for that. I think it’s just that sometimes you’ve got to control your emotions. He’s frustrated with the first half of the year, and he wants to help this hockey club. Sometimes his emotions are probably running a little too high and he reacts that way, but having said that, it had no influence on my decision on Saturday.”
For what it’s worth, Rask has been cool as a cucumber off the ice all season despite the uncertainty as to when he’ll play. On the ice, however, he’s never shied away from expressing his emotions, and Julien hopes he can keep them in check.
|03.21.11 at 12:48 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ dressing room seemed to be silent Monday when it came to discussing Matt Cooke‘s latest cheap shot. Shawn Thornton didn’t like the idea of commenting on it, while Johnny Boychuk claimed to have not seen the hit. Despite not everybody talking, Brad Marchand and even coach Claude Julien said enough to make it clear that Cooke’s act is not appreciated in these parts.
The Bruins, of course, have a direct tie to Cooke in that they are currently playing without Marc Savard, who has not been the same since Cooke blind-sided him last season.
“I think that it’s about time he gets — he’s got to be taught a lesson,” Marchand said. “He’s doing that stuff left, right, and center. I expect that he’ll probably get a bunch of games, but he’s got to be taught a lesson. You can’t be running around doing that stuff all the time. He’s going to seriously hurt someone again. Look at Savvy, and now McDonagh. He could have easily hurt him.
“It just seems to be part of his game. He likes to throw cheap shots around. I don’t know if he’ll learn. Hopefully he does. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt someone to the point where their career is over. You want to get that stuff out of the game, and hopefully he does learn his lesson.”
Marchand is coming off a two-game suspension of his own for a blindside elbow on Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger last week. As a first-time offender, Marchand and Julien hope that theta young forward’s lesson has been learned, but when asked about Marchand, Julien worked in a jab at Cooke.
“I think you need to trust your players to do the right things,” Julien said. “You have to trust your players that they’ve learned from those things and they don’t let it happen, although there are certain guys in the league that don’t seem to be learning.”
There was a light-hearted reaction to the Cooke reference, though when asked to comment further on the Penguins forward, Julien got serious and politely declined.
“No reaction, no comment,” Julien said. “I think right now I’ve got my hands full with trying to get our team back on track. This is an opportunity for me to let the league do their job.”
|03.21.11 at 10:38 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are practicing at Ristuccia Arena Monday for the second straight day, hoping to work towards improving their play of late. The lines looked the same Monday as they did Sunday, with the Patrice Bergeron line carrying the extra man.
Milan Lucic ‘ David Krejci ‘ Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand/Michael Ryder ‘ Patrice Bergeron ‘ Mark Recchi
Rich Peverley ‘ Chris Kelly ‘ Tyler Seguin
Daniel Paille ‘ Gregory Campbell ‘ Shawn Thornton
|03.20.11 at 1:17 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — By now, Nathan Horton‘s reputation with the media is well-known. Very friendly, asks you how you’re doing before he answers a single question, and thanks you for your time after you’ve spoken with him. Rarely is he caught without a smile on his face, but when it comes to dropping the gloves on the ice, his facial expression turns to borderline maniacal.
Horton had every reason to remain angry after his fight Saturday with Dion Phaneuf. The Toronto captain elected to leave his helmet on in the third-period bout, and took the decision against Horton, who had already removed his helmet.
After the game, Don Cherry blasted Phaneuf on Hockey Night in Canada, and it would be understandable if Horton, who sported stitches on his right eyebrow Sunday, had something to say about it as well. Instead, Horton took the high road.
“I don’t even remember the game,” Horton, who is generally elaborate with his answers, said. “It’s done with.”
Instead of discussing whose helmets were left on during fights, Horton is more concerned with the team getting back on track after dropping six of their last seven games.
“When you’re not winning, it’s not fun to come to the rink like [before],” he said. “When we were winning it was fun. Obviously right now, things aren’t going our way, and it’s been tough.”
|03.20.11 at 11:21 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Ah, the rare Sunday practice. After an ugly 5-2 loss in Toronto Saturday, the B’s took the ice here at Ristuccia Arena in attempt to work out the issues that have made them losers of six of their last seven games (1-3-3).
|03.19.11 at 9:46 pm ET|
Tim Thomas, who allowed four goals on the night, was pulled in the second period, but returned to start the third. The Leafs got goals from Luke Schenn, Nazem Kadri, Joey Crabb, Mike Brown, and Keith Aulie. Thomas was yanked after Brown’s second-period goal, though Tuukka Rask played only 11:42 before Thomas was reinserted between the pipes.
Adam McQuaid had the first Bruins goal, firing a puck off Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf’s skate to beat an otherwise outstanding James Reimer. Daniel Paille scored with 19.8 seconds remaining in the game. The B’s went 0-for-2 on the power play, and have scored just two goals on the man advantage since acquiring Tomas Kaberle.
The Bruins have now lost six of their last seven games, going 1-3-3. They will return to TD Garden to face the Devils on Tuesday.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Can’t help but wonder what the reasoning was behind putting Thomas back in net to start the third period after yanking him in the second. Rask did not appear to be a happy camper after Dennis Seidenberg screened him on Aulie’s goal, though Claude Julien said after the game that the decision had nothing to do with it. Julien’s plan could be to use Rask against the Devils on Tuesday, so perhaps he was just trying to preserve him after playing him last two games.
– Overall it was a tremendously uninspired effort for the Bruins. Too many odd man rushes did them in, and it wasn’t as though they were getting beaten by a bunch of elite scorers. None of the five players to score for the Leafs had more than three goals entering the game.
– When the Bruins stumbled in the three games (0-1-2) following their seven-game win-streak, it seemed the road would be a good place to get back on track. Instead of finding their way, the B’s continued their skid on a four-game road trip that produced just one win. Eight of their final 11 games will be played at home, so they’ll try to straighten things out a the Garden after a very unsuccessful road trip.
– The seven-game point streak for David Krejci has come to an end. He had 3-6-9 totals over his last seven contests.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Schenn didn’t make McQuaid look very good on the game’s first goal, so it was good to see the rookie blueliner make up for it with his second goal of the season. On any other night, getting beaten for a goal and scoring a goal doesn’t make for a standout performance, but there was little to like from the Bruins’ standpoint Saturday.
– People get ahead of themselves when it comes to Tyler Seguin and whether he deserves more playing time, but he was a rare bright spot for the Bruins on an otherwise very ugly night. Reimer robbed the rookie a number of times, but Seguin didn’t need to score to stand out amongst an unproductive Boston bunch.
– This speaks to how bad things were, but Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Krejci and the Merlot Line can pat themselves on the back knowing that they were the only two Bruins skaters to not finish the night with a negative rating.