|Matt Cooke: ‘I can’t control people’s opinions’||05.30.13 at 1:42 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — Matt Cooke hasn’t been suspended in over two years, but the controversial Penguins forward knows that his past is on plenty of people’s minds as he prepares to face the Bruins in Eastern Conference finals.
Cooke, a veteran of 13 seasons, is best known for having a career of dirty hits, none more infamous than his elbow to the head of Bruins center Marc Savard back in 2010. The hit effectively ended Savard’s career, as lingering concussion symptoms have kept him off the ice the last two seasons. Savard last played in 2011, but was shut down for the season after suffering another concussion on a routine check from Avalanche defenseman Matt Hunwick.
“I can’t control people’s opinions,” Cooke said Thursday. “Fans have emotions towards certain things and they’re going to be attached to them. I need to go out and prepare to play against the Bruins to the best of my ability, and if I’m worried about that, it’s going to affect me in a negative way.”
Asked if he thought about the Savard hit (for which he was not suspended at the time), when he saw that the Penguins would play the Bruins in the conference finals, Cooke shook his head and said, “Nope.”
The Bruins have said this week that they aren’t focused on Cooke now, but they certainly aren’t fans of his. After Cooke’s last suspension, which came in March of 2011 when he was banned for the rest of the season and playoffs for targeting the head of Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh, Brad Marchand called for an end to Cooke’s dirty play.
‘I think that it’s about time he gets ‘ he’s got to be taught a lesson,’ Marchand said at the time. ‘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.’
Cooke, his teammates and coach Dan Bylsma have said Cooke’s been a different player since the forward vowed to change entering last season. He hasn’t been suspended since, though he received heat after it was his skate that accidentally sliced Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson‘s Achilles’ tendon back in February.
“His game and his approach to the game and how he plays has changed significantly since then,” Bylsma said. “I’m not sure Matt’s ever going to get away from some of that reputation throughout the league, but he’s put a significant amount of hockey in between his last suspension and how he’s played the last couple years for us.”
Bylsma added that Cooke has been “one of our best performers in the first two rounds, playing his game, playing well, playing physically.” He noted that if Cooke remains a storyline throughout the series, it’s “probably going to mean Matt’s playing well and we’re playing well vs. the other way around.”
|Brad Marchand on Matt Cooke: ‘It’s not even in our minds right now’||05.29.13 at 5:02 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are not consumed with exacting revenge on Matt Cooke.
As Brad Marchand reminded everyone on Wednesday after practice, the stakes now are way too high to get into revenge games for a hit that happened three seasons ago.
Of course, the hit that is etched in the mind of every Bruins fan when you mention the name Matt Cooke is the blindside hit he laid on the head of Marc Savard on March 7, 2010. That hit resulted in a Grade 2 concussion. After sitting out the first round of the playoffs, Savard scored the game-winner against the Flyers in overtime in Game 1.
Savard, however, was never the same player. After suffering another concussion 10 months later, he was shut down for the season and could not participate in the run to the Cup title.
How do the Bruins deal with their emotions on Cooke?
“Well, it depends what you mean by that,” Claude Julien said. “Are you talking about the Savard thing? Or are you talking about the way Matt Cooke plays. There’s different ways of answering that. At one point, you’ve got to move on from certain things. Just like the next question will be like [Jarome] Iginla. Stuff like that. We all know about that. The thing we have to focus on is finding a way to win the series. If you just want revenge on this guy or that guy. Is it really the right focus to have? The best way to get that satisfaction is by winning a series. So I think that’s where your focus has to be.”
Asked on Wednesday what he thought of Cooke, Marchand, a rookie in 2010, agreed with his coach, adding the Bruins can’t worry about exacting some measure of personal revenge.
“He’s playing well right now,” Marchand began, before offering a bit of backhanded compliment. “If you watched the Ottawa series, he’s running around a bit but he’s doing some things offensively, too. He’s doing good things for the team. We’re not going to focus on any single guy over there. They’ve got four lines that can do damage so he’s just another guy who’s on their team.
“It’s a completely different season. We’re not worried about that at all anymore. It’s a long time ago. There’s much bigger things at stake than that hit. It’s not even in our minds right now.”
“He’s doing a lot of good things right now, making a lot of plays,” Marchand said of Jagr. “He’s in the right spot a lot of the time. He’s getting a ton of opportunities. You really only have to start worrying when you don’t get any opportunities and that’s not the case for him. So hopefully, they’ll start going in for Jags.”
The other priority will be to keep a close eye on the Penguins‘ highly potent second line of Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla and James Neal. Marchand said keeping the puck in the offensive zone will be a big part of Boston’s defensive attack when those three are on the ice.
“That’s definitely a big part of playing like a line against that,” Marchand said. “They want to play in the offensive zone, and if we can find a way to keep them down in the defensive end and work it down there, it limits their opportunity to score. We want to play in their end as much as possible, but it’s not an easy thing to do with the skill and talent they have over there.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C explains confrontation with Rangers forward Derek Dorsett||05.22.13 at 10:40 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to offer his take on Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over the Rangers that gave the Bruins a 3-0 series lead.
“I’m lucky to play with those two guys,” Thornton said. “They’re not fourth-liners on a lot of other teams. I’m fortunate to have them with me.”
Thornton noted that all three fourth-liners could have signed elsewhere last offseason, but the Bruins kept the trio together.
“You’ve got to give Peter [Chiarelli] credit for having faith in us, bringing all three of us back,” he said. “We were all free agents at the end of the last season. I think I was the only one that got re-upped during the season. They paid a little money to keep all three of us around.
“I haven’t looked at the other fourth lines in the league, but we’re compensated pretty well as far as fourth-liners go. We’re getting some notoriety right now in the playoffs, but the team believed in us before this.”
A key moment in Tuesday’s game came when Thornton replaced Brad Marchand on the ice and confronted Derek Dorsett after Dorsett had been harassing Marchand.
“He’s doing his job,” Thornton said of Dorsett. “He got Marchy off the ice in the first period [on a penalty]. They’re both agitators. If they’re matching him against Marchy, he’s going to try and get under his skin and keep him off the ice as much as possible. Marchy’s probably been our best player in this series so far. He’s doing his job. I had to go out there and politely say that I wasn’t a fan of him being all over our star left winger.”
Thornton said he was ready to fight, but either way he wanted to send a message.
“I didn’t know [if Dorsett would fight],” Thornton said. “If he had wanted to, then I definitely would have obliged. I joked about being polite; I wasn’t going out there to ask him what dinner was later.”
Added Thornton: “It’s a job. I’ve been doing it for a long time. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. I was happy we got to play after that, too, that it wasn’t our last shift.”
|Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘The Bruins just took over’ after Shawn Thornton’s challenge to Derek Dorsett went unanswered||at 9:51 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to break down the B’s 2-1 victory over the Rangers in Tuesday night’s Game 3.
Pederson said he was surprised that there wasn’t more of a sense of urgency from the Rangers, who now are in a 3-0 series hole.
“We didn’t see the desperation from New York,” Pederson said. “I thought the Bruins, right from the opening faceoff, kind of took the crowd right out of the game. They had two or three really good shifts in that first period, didn’t allow the Rangers to get any momentum. [The Rangers] only had 24 shots on net, they had two power plays; the Bruins didn’t have any, outshot them 34-24.
“The Bruins for the most part did a really good job of not allowing New York any sustained pressure on them. It looked to me like the Bruins were much more under control and forceful out there than the New York Rangers were.”
Added Pederson: “[The Rangers] look tired to me. They look physically drained, mentally drained. ‘¦ A lot of these guys look like they’ve hit the wall. But again, I think by doing that, you’re taking away some of the credit that the Bruins deserve. They really went out there with four lines — especially that fourth line last night — and they just wear you down.”
“One of the more important shifts may have been the one where [Thornton] comes on, when Dorsett’s trying to suck Marchand into a penalty, physically kind of manhandle him a little bit and try to get him off the ice because Marchand’s been such a good player for them in this series,” Pederson said. “And the faceoff right by the bench, you can see Marchand gets kind of yelled at, I’m sure it’s Claude [Julien] just said: Hey, come over here. Shawn Thornton hops on the ice and goes right over to Dorsett and says: Hey, listen, you’re not going to do that.
“Once Shawn proved his point, he went off and Marchand came right back on. And I thought from that moment on, you could see the physicality also with [Milan] Lucic‘s hit on [Anton] Stralman, who never returned after that big forecheck hit. You could kind of see the momentum shift, and the Bruins just took over.”
Added Pederson: “I played on a lot of big, physical teams over the years. I remember Wayne Cashman would always say with guys that felt bad after maybe they came off and didn’t get the upper hand in a fight or something, he’d say: Hey, listen, I don’t care how many you win. What we care about is how many you show up for. That shows everybody else on the bench. And that’s why it was so important for Shawn Thornton to go out there and say: Hey, listen, you’re not pushing around our little guys. That’s not going to happen. He is a valuable part of our team. If you want to go, let’s you and I go right now.
“As soon as he doesn’t do that, the Bruins on the bench go: Aha, OK, we can see what you’re made of. And from that moment on you can see the emotion shift drastically in either direction. ‘¦ I really thought from that moment on you could kind of see the Bruins say: Exactly, we know that we have you now. We know that you won’t take on our physically tough guys.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Game 1 changed after Johnny Boychuk was injured on hit from behind||05.17.13 at 11:35 am ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire made an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning to dissect the Bruins’ Game 1 win over the Rangers.
After an uneventful first period, the teams traded goals in the second and third periods before Brad Marchand scored the game-winner when he tipped in a pass from Patrice Bergeron 15:40 into overtime. McGuire said the intensity level starting picking up after a play early in the second period.
“I really felt the whole game and the intensity of the game changed after the [Taylor] Pyatt hit on Johnny Boychuk,” McGuire said. “That amped up the entire energy in the building and amped up the entire energy between the two teams. And it created some good opportunities for some phenomenal athleticism from both teams. ‘¦ In overtime it was clearly the Bruins’ overtime and they dominated it. Obviously, they had the power-play opportunity, they felt comfortable. That’s one of the reasons why home ice matters, because you have such a raucous crowd there. And I think the crowd really helped energize the Boston Bruins, especially during that power-play sequence.”
Added McGuire: “I’m not surprised they had a bit of a slow start. But I really, again, I can’t stress this enough: I thought the whole game and the whole energy of the game changed after Taylor Pyatt hit Johnny Boychuk from behind. That really changed the entire chemistry of the game. That’s good for the series going forward.
“I asked Brad Marchand last night on my interview after the game what kind of series he was expecting. He says, ‘Nasty, physical, mean.’ I would agree.”
Jaromir Jagr didn’t register a point Thursday, but McGuire said he believes his presence will be felt eventually.
“I think he can help the power play. That’s where I think he’s going to be a huge benefit for the Bruins, because of his ability to dominate the puck and make good decisions with it,” McGuire said. “Fatigue was a very real issue for Jaromir last night. That’s why I made the comment that I made [about Jagr needing short shifts].
“I was part of the management team that drafted him, I coached him, I skated with him a ton earlier in his career. I know the body of work that he’s presented, and I know when he’s tired and when he’s not. And you could just see he was breaking down last night after about 25-30 seconds. That’s normal; he’s 40 years old. But I expect that he’s going to help their power play. And I think at some point they’re going to have to look to put Tyler Seguin back on that line in five-on-five situations, especially in the second and third period.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘We didn’t have any passengers’||at 10:03 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Bruins appeared to be in control for much of the game, but Thornton said there was no overconfidence heading into OT.
“I was actually thinking that we’ve hit a lot of posts tonight,” Thornton recalled. “I don’t know how many times you’ve seen it where you have that many chances to win and then all of a sudden they come down the other way and pop one. We talked about it, we wanted to come out in overtime and put the pedal down. They’re a good team, so you can’t give them any reason to get going.”
Added Thornton: “I thought it was pretty even until overtime. We stepped it up. I liked that pretty much all the guys were going last night. We didn’t have any passengers. It’s been a while since we’ve had everyone, all lines going. That was positive.”
Brad Marchand, who left the team’s morning skate with an apparent injury, bounced back with a strong game and scored the winner in overtime — something Thornton said he predicted.
“That was his best game last night of the playoffs,” Thornton said. “I told him it was such. I actually called him in between the third and overtime for scoring — I was very psychic, obviously. He played really well. He wants to do better. He’s a competitor, you can tell. His whole life, everyone has told him he’s too short, too whatever. He wants to win. It was good to see him get back to those ways last night, that’s for sure.”
The Bruins were playing without three injured defensemen, but young blueliners Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug came through with solid performances.
“They were really good,” Thornton said. “I thought maybe one of them out of the three might have had some jitters — no one in particular. I saw Bart and Dougie in Game 7, and they were both spectacular in Game 7, too. But Kruger’s first game in a while, he scores a huge goal. I think his first shift he had a couple of plays where he skated out of the zone, and I think that settled him down. I think all three of them were unbelievable back there last night. A little — I don’t want to say surprised, because I’ve seen them all play, and I know they’re very capable of playing in those games. But you’re right, when it’s your first playoff game or your second playoff game, you could have those jitters, and they didn’t. They were unbelievable.”
Much was made of Tyler Seguin not scoring a goal in the seven-game series against the Leafs, and for good reason. After all, if the Bruins figure to go deep in the playoffs, they will eventually need one of their better players to get going offensively.
But the same could also be said of Brad Marchand, who also went goal-less in round No. 1.
He had three assists but no goals as the Bruins survived in seven games.
Marchand picked a great time to end his drought Thursday night against the Rangers.
Marchand took a perfect feed from Patrice Bergeron on an odd-man rush and beat Henrik Lundqvist at 15:40 of overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 win in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
“I think it might’ve been Z [Zdeno Chara] who had a nice poke check on the three-on-two there,” Marchand said. “And then Bergy did a really good job. I was able to get a little bit of space, he made a great pass, and I just put it in the open net.
“It felt great. We had a really good game tonight, and to be able to finish it off with a win is very big. We’re happy that we’re able to capitalize in these overtime games. They’re very tough games to be in, but we’re happy with the win tonight.”
It was obvious in overtime that the Bruins, thanks in part to a Rangers penalty, picked up valuable momentum due to their re-energized power play, which didn’t scored but put six shots on goal.
“Yeah, it’s a whole new series and we’re happy to play the Rangers,” Marchand said. “They’re a very good team and a very good battle. It’s nice to finally get one there and get the monkey off the back, and hopefully they keep coming.
“That’s usually how it goes in the playoffs. One team does very well in overtime and then the other team gets a lucky one. We hit so many posts and had so many very good opportunities. They were bound to get one. But, again, we’re very happy to get the win tonight.”
Marchand pointed to the six shots on the power play as the key to maintaining energy in the extra period.