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Peter Taglianetti on M&M: Brad Marchand could near Matt Cooke territory 06.06.13 at 2:00 pm ET
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Brad Marchand, here celebrating Patrice Bergeron's game-winner in double overtime Wednesday night, has been criticized for his chippy play. (AP)

Framingham native and former Penguin Peter Taglianetti checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to chime as a voice from the other side of the ongoing Eastern Conference finals, and said Brad Marchand might want to watch out. Sooner or later, the scrappy Bruins forward could be viewed similarly to how Matt Cooke is now.

Cooke has drawn the ire of hockey fans everywhere and Bruins fans in particular for a series of dirty hits throughout his career, most recently after a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting defenseman Adam McQuaid from behind in Game 1.

While Marchand is not on that level, Taglianetti compared the two.

“If you guys had Matt Cooke, you guys would love him. If the Penguins had Marchand, they would love him. He plays on the edge,” Taglianetti said. “I don’t think [Marchand is] dirty-dirty, but he plays with that little edge that you sit there and go, ‘Wow, you better watch yourself.’ The one thing that I’d give him as a piece of advice, at some point … this guy is going to get a reputation and he’s going to be put in that same [group] Matt Cooke is soon.”

Taglianetti, disappointed in the Peguins play thus far that has led to the Bruins’ 3-0 series lead, pinned it in the lacked of fundamentals. He cited Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang getting tied up in front of the net in Wednesday’s Game 3 as an example.

“Little things like that irk the hell out of me,” Taglianetti said. “Not knowing who is on the ice, or trying to make a stretch pass when the team’s bottling up the neutral zone — there’s a lot of little things that the mentality of the game just doesn’t seem to be there.”

As for the atmosphere in Pittsburgh, well, it’s about how you’d expect. People are worried, frustrated.

“I probably couldn’t use the words people are saying,” he said. “You don’t have to be a superstar to be a leader. A lot of people around here are wondering who is supposed to be leading this team.”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Penguins ‘were stunned more than quit’ 06.04.13 at 12:07 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to break down the Bruins’ 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Penguins have been the harder-hitting team in the first two games, but the Bruins have dominated on the scoreboard. McGuire said the Pens are making the same mistake they did a year ago, altering their style to try to match a more physical opponent.

“They didn’t learn their lesson from last year against Philadelphia. They tried to do the same thing with Philadelphia last year and they got banged out,” McGuire said. “You saw the frustration with [Sidney] Crosby, you saw the frustration with [Evgeni] Malkin, you saw the frustration with [Kris] Letang. You’re seeing a lot of the same stuff right now.

“[Penguins general manager] Ray Shero tried to address it. That’s why he brought in Brenden Morrow, that’s why he brought in Jarome Iginla, that’s why he brought in Jussi Jokinen, that’s why he brought in Douglas Murray — older players that can maybe stabilize situations if there were negative times in a playoff run. It hasn’t worked so far in this round. We’ll see.

“This is my one caveat to everybody: I did the last series between Detroit and Chicago, and there was so much frustration on the Chicago side of things [when the Blackhawks were down 3-1] it was unbelievable. They were melting down before everybody’s eyes. And then they just role-reversed it and eventually won the series. Anything can happen. But the Bruins have really earned to be in this position. They really merit where they are right now.”

While the Penguins have shown a lack of focus and discipline, the Bruins appear to be playing with more intensity.

Said McGuire: “There’s a heart there, there’s a soul there. There’s a Bruin passion. … There’s a lot to be said about the character of the city of Boston, about the players that represent the city of Boston and about the fans that go to the games there and watch the games. There’s a lot to be said. I think emotion matters a lot in our sport, and there’s a lot to be said about ‘Boston Strong.’ ”

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Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘It’s tough this time of year to retaliate’ against Matt Cooke 06.03.13 at 10:44 am ET
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Shawn Thornton

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about his team’s Eastern Conference finals series against the Penguins.

With usual suspect Matt Cooke not being suspended for his Saturday night hit against Adam McQuaid, there is an expectation that the Bruins will try to retaliate against Cooke. However, Thornton downplayed that possibility.

“It’s tough this time of year to retaliate,” Thornton said. “You don’t want to be the reason that you lose a game in the playoffs. Everything is just worth so much more this time of year, especially how far along we are in the playoffs. It gets more important to keep your composure.

“This hit was a little bit different [than the one on Marc Savard], obviously, and if need be I’m pretty sure Adam McQuaid can take care of himself. He is a pretty big, tough guy.”

Mark Madden, a sports talk radio host at 105.9 The X in Pittsburgh, said the Bruins did not immediately retaliate when Cooke checked Savard in the head on March 7, 2010, is because Savard was disliked in the Bruins locker room. Thornton denied that claim.

“Matt Cooke got kicked out of that game with Savvy years ago [actually, Cooke was not penalized at all]. The people that were on the ice with Savvy — a couple of them didn’t see what happened and I think a couple of them couldn’t get there in time. It was like Michael Ryder, who I don’t think ever had a fight in the NHL. Then there was three minutes left in the game, if I’m not mistaken [actually 5:37], so you can’t go out there and jump anyone either because it’s a $10,000 fine for you and a $10,000 fine for the coach and a $20,000 fine for the team — I don’t know what the exact numbers are but there are a lot of rules in place that stop you from gooning it up at the end of the games. They’re just trying to clean up the game.

“So, it wasn’t because Savvy was disliked. It was just at what time it went and who with that incident.”

One player who did fight Saturday night was Patrice Bergeron, who dropped the gloves with Evgeni Malkin after the second period. Bergeron lost the fight and got a bloody face, but Thornton said he did not have much of a chance to win it once Malkin pulled his jersey over his head.

“His jersey came over his head really quickly and there is nothing you can do when that happens,” Thornton said. “You can’t see anything, kind of the old-school way, I guess. He did a good job getting in there. He didn’t back down. I know Malkin is not known as a tough guy, but he still is about five inches taller than him. Any time anyone gets in there, it’s not an easy job to do, so I definitely congratulated him.”

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Matt Cooke says he should not have been tossed for hit on Adam McQuaid 06.02.13 at 1:53 pm ET
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Matt Cooke

PITTSBURGH — After news came down that he would not be facing any additional discipline, Penguins forward Matt Cooke told reporters Sunday at Consol Energy Center that he did not believe he should have been given a game misconduct for his check from behind on Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid.

Cooke, who has not been suspended in over two years, received a five-minute major and game misconduct for hitting McQuaid from behind in the second period, sending him into the boards head-first.

“I think it’s a penalty,” Cooke told reporters. “But I don’t think it’s an ejection or suspension.”

McQuaid remained down on the ice and, after woozily skating off, missed the next 8:58, with Cooke incorrectly saying that the Bruins defenseman didn’t leave the game.

“Initially it looked like he was hurt but he played a shift after,” Cooke said.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Andrew Ference on Matt Cooke: League should focus on hit, not player at 12:02 am ET
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Andrew Ference

PITTSBURGH — Matt Cooke technically doesn’t qualify as a repeat offender because his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, but Bruins fans were reminded of what he does when he hit Adam McQuaid from behind and sent the Bruins defenseman head-first into the end boards in the second period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Cooke was handed a game misconduct from the hit and figures to hear from league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan. His last suspension came in March of 2011, so while Shanahan technically can’t consider him a repeat-offender, he’ll likely have a hard time avoiding the fact that he’s dealing with Matt Cooke, who has been infamous for dirty hits in his career.

Andrew Ference has been suspended twice in an 18-month span, as he received bans in each of the last two seasons for hits on Ryan McDonagh and Mikhail Grabovski. After the Bruins’ 3-0 win Saturday, Ference kept his opinion of Cooke to himself, though he did say he feels the league should make their decisions based on the hit, and not the players involved.

“Whether it’s [Cooke] or somebody else, a hit’s a hit,” Ference said. “If it should be reviewed, it should be reviewed. It shouldn’t be about who it is; it’s about the action. It shouldn’t be a bigger headline if it’s one guy or another. If the action merits a response from the league, then it does. I don’t think it’s any bigger of a problem, at least we’re not going to make it a bigger problem because it’s him.”

Asked then about what he thought of the hit, Ference, like Chara, avoided criticizing Cooke.

“It’s difficult, as players, to give too much comment on those. Penalties are called by the refs and they have their decisions to make, which are hard enough at the speed this game goes,” Ference, who once called out his own teammate’s hit, said. “They’re in their game at this point because they’re the best in the league at it. We have to respect how hard it is for them to make calls. For us to try to give our opinions on it I think is overstepping our boundaries.”

Neither Cooke nor Brad Marchand, the latter of whom also turned in a dirty hit by shoving James Neal into the boards later in the second, spoke to the media following the game.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘wasn’t good, he was outstanding’ 06.01.13 at 11:58 pm ET
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Claude Julien and the Bruins were fired up Saturday night for Game 1. (AP)

Claude Julien watched as his team scored first, then he scolded them for turnovers. Then the Bruins coach sat back and watched his team take Pittsburgh’s best punch and beat the Penguins, 3-0, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

The Bruins got a first period goal from David Krejci, the first of two on the night from the team’s leading scorer in these playoffs. In the second period, Julien said he was worried that the team was giving Pittsburgh too many chances.

“I thought for a while, halfway through the second period, I was saying to our players that we were turning too many pucks over in the neutral zone or just outside or inside the offensive blueline,” Julien said. “Sure enough, they’re a team that really takes advantage of those turnovers.

“We got caught into a run‑and‑gun type of game. I think we all know we’re not a team that does well in those run‑and‑gun games.
In the third period, we settled down, played more of our game. I think that’s why we spent more time in our own end and managed the puck better. I thought there was some average puck management in the second period, too. That’s what I mean, some of the passes they would intercept, we tried to hit our D, they would cut those off. Luckily, whatever little mistakes we made, Tuukka was up to the task.”

Rask stopped all 29 shots on the night and even took a shove from Sidney Crosby at the end of the second period, prompting a center ice scuffle as the teams went to the dressing room. Julien said Rask’s work with goaltending coach Bob Essensa all week paid off, preventing any possible rust from a six-day layoff.

“Bob has been with us all week,” Julien said. “He did some work with us before practice, worked on all the things he wanted to work on.
Those are all things that obviously helped us. [Rask] got some rest. So tonight, as far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t good, he was outstanding.”

Julien downplayed the scuffle at the end of the second period and didn’t go after public enemy No. 1 in Matt Cooke for his hit on Adam McQuaid in the first period that resulted in game misconduct on Cooke.

“I don’t know if it had any impact at all, to be honest with you,” Julien said when asked. “Again, I didn’t get a chance to look at it closely. I was asked that question on the bench. I can’t comment on that stuff. I didn’t see it clearly enough. Was he in that position ahead of time, that Cooke could see him in a vulnerable position? I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it.

“No matter what I say, the league will rule on that stuff and move forward with it. You got to trust, again, they’re going to make the right decision.”

As for the scuffle at the end of the second that also featured a fight between Patrice Bergeron and Evgeni Malkin and ended with a shouting match between captains Sidney Crosby and Zdeno Chara, Julien said that stuff happens.

“Whatever. I didn’t see everything happen except that there was a fight,” Julien said. “I saw Sidney push our goaltender as he’s skating off.
This is playoff hockey. Those things are going to happen. You don’t whine or complain about it, you just deal with it. What we had to deal with tonight was winning a hockey game. That’s all that mattered. Whichever way we took at the end of the night, that’s all that mattered.”
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Matt Cooke: ‘I can’t control people’s opinions’ 05.30.13 at 1:42 pm ET
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Matt Cooke might be changed, but he can't change the past. (AP)

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.”

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