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Tag:Matt Cooke
Posted on: February 19, 2012 4:38 pm
Edited on: February 19, 2012 8:48 pm
 

Weekend Wrap: No hating on Wings now

The weekend saw Detroit's home streak go from 21 in a row to 23. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

I took a lot of heat for suggesting last week that the Red Wings' home win streak, as impressive as it is, might be deserving of a little side not in the history books thanks to the shootout.

But even I'll concede now you can forget that. I said if the Wings continued to push out the streak it becomes a non-issue and you are just left in too much awe of what Detroit has done. They've done exactly that.

After failing in their last five regular-season games against the San Jose Sharks, the Wings instead finished off a six-game homestand with another win, a hard-fought 3-2 victory at the Joe. For those counting at home, and I'm sure that's most all of you, that's 23 consecutive home wins, three more than the previous record.

It all underscores a bigger point. Sure, the NHL record is great and all, but that's nothing more than a nice stat to go in the history books. Otherwise it means nothing. However it will mean something if the Red Wings earn the Presidents' Trophy, or at least the top seed in the Western Conference.

You look hard to find holes on this team. At one point you might have said it was the backup goaltending, then Jimmy Howard got hurt, Joey MacDonald was called up and he has proven he is capable of replacing Ty Conklin. More than capable, in fact.

Before the season the hole was glaring on the defense. That's why they brought in some players to help in that regard, although none seemed to be all that significant at the time, at least to me. Oops.

While one of those additions, Mike Commodore, has been sparingly used, you can't say the same for Ian White. Despite pretty solid career numbers, I wasn't too crazy about a guy who played on three different teams last season (Calgary, Carolina and San Jose). Apparently that was a silly worry.

He has been as solid a plug into their blueline group as anybody out there. He chews up more than 23 minutes per game, he contributes some offensively and is on pace to smash his career best plus/minus mark (currently he is plus-29). I know, I know, plus/minus doesn't mean much, but you'd rather have a player who is that far above zero than below it, wouldn't you?

Moreover, they have scoring depth. Who'd a thunk that Drew Miller -- no longer just the brother of Sabres goalie Ryan Miller -- would be on his way to 15 or so goals? He is one of the 10 Red Wings players who are in double digits in goals this season. That means there is little reprieve at any point in a game against the Wings.

More from the weekend
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Obviously you're a good team when you win 23 in a row at home. Clearly no slouch is going to get that done. But the biggest thing about this home streak for me is that it will contribute to them playing a lot more at home. Ironic, I know. But what really matters will be the home games beyond the guaranteed 41.

Philly's problem

This week the Flyers made not one but two trades to get help on the defensive corps. While the help was definitely needed, not a lot is going to get better if the goaltending duo doesn't improve.

A sight that has become all too familiar this season, Ilya Bryzgalov was yanked mid-game after Matt Cooke scored the all-too rare 3-on-5 goal. Sergei Bobrovsky came in and din't perform any better. Eventually it ended in a 6-4 loss for the Flyers to the intrastate rival Penguins.

But evidenced by the downpour of boos from the Wells Fargo Center faithful, this has been a season-long issue for Philadelphia. Heck, it's been a lot longer than this season, but it was supposed to be resolved when they brought in Bryzgalov.

His save percentage has been floating around .900 all season. Right now it's sitting square on that mark, the lowest of his career. His goals against average is up to 2.79. His only worse season was in 2008-09 when he gave up 2.98 per game with the Coyotes.

Needless to say this isn't what the Flyers invested so much into him for. You have to think that with the success the team has had despite the goaltending woes, if either one of the goalies could get it going and start playing up to an acceptable level at minimum, they could make some serious noise in the playoffs.

You just wonder if that's possible at this point, if it's in either goalie with the current situation, from the defense in front of them to the coaching. It's a conversation that continues to linger around the Flyers.

Just check out what the Flyers had to say, including Bryzgalov after Saturday's loss.

Hockey Day in America

So among all the American players playing on Sunday, who'd a thunk that Paul Gaustad would be the first to score on Sunday's Hockey Day in America?

Assuming you don't count Canadian-born Jason Pominville even though he does play for the American natonal team as a dual-citizen, it was his Sabres teammate that scored the first goal by an American. He barely beat Drew Miller in Detroit for that honor.

It was part of a rare breakout for the Sabres. It's been a big struggle for them this season in Buffalo, but they brought out the scoring sticks and pounded the Penguins 6-2. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't do much for Buffalo who is too far out of the playoff picture, but it was perhaps a nice audition for Gaustad in this month of the trade deadline.

He's not going to be as sought after as a lot of the other players, but some team seeking grit and toughness with a side of skill, Gaustad could fit somewhere. Just go back and watch his work on Evgeni Malkin on Sunday to get a sense of that.

Unlucky break of the weekend

Speaking of Hockey Day in America, one of the other big games of the day was the St. Louis Blues visiting the Chicago Blackhawks. It was also a big matchup in the Central Division as well.

As is the case with every Blues game, it was a low-scoring affair that turned with one bad break. This one going against the Blues.

The game-winning goal for the Blackhawks technically went to Dave Bolland, but if they could, it should have gone to the Blues' David Backes, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The centering pass shot off of Backes and he couldn't stop the puck from going in the net in time. The 'Hawks eventually potted an empty-netter for their third straight win after the nine-game skid.

Vancouver love

This year's NHLPA players poll voted the Vancouver Canucks as the league's most overrated team. Don't think I'd agree at all in calling them overrated. They were one game from winning the Cup last season and as we all know, only one team can win the Cup each season. I mean the Canucks have won the games to put them in the positions they've been in each postseason, it's not like it's a fabrication, they earned those points.

In fact, I'd say that this team doesn't get enough credit, at least in the States. They seem to be in the news a bit, but not often for their play. Yet all they do is win as DJ Khaled so eloquently said. This is the team that could take away from that Red Wings home-ice advantage in the West this postseason.

That's because they extended their points streak to 12 games after beating down the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-2 on Saturday in Vancouver. They are 9-0-3 in that time. They became the second team behind the Wings to reach the 80-point plateau.

Perhaps that overrated label has come from the fact that we expect this now. It might also explain why they are winning so quietly. Or maybe it has been the large amount of overtime and shootout wins, especially lately. But no matter the reason, people should probably pay attention.

Just can't Capitalize

Every time you think the Washington Capitals are going to get it going after a big and impressive win, they fall flat. It happened again this weekend.

They took two points from the division-leading Panthers on Friday night in a dominating effort, outshooting Florida by a wide margin. So how'd they follow that up? By looking like the Caps we've seen for the most of Dale Hunter's tenure ... being outshot and outchanced for the majority of the game and losing a low-scoring affair to the Lightning 2-1.

It seems every step they take forward they take one step back. It's why the Panthers are still sitting in first place in the Southeast with just 65 points. That's the seventh most in the Eastern Conference yet best in the division.

At some point if the Caps are going to make the playoffs they need to start stringing together a couple of these wins in a row instead of missing these chances.

Quote of the weekend

“I haven’t been on a vacation for 15 days,” Boudreau said. ”This is ridiculous. The East has no idea how lucky they are. And I think every team in the West should start with 10 points before the season starts.

“Eight games and 15 days. And I’m sure Pittsburgh goes through it, too. But when you have a four-game road trip in seven days, you’re coming home exhausted. We’re at seven days right now and this is just the halfway point in our trip.

“For a guy that’s played in the East or coach in the East as well, I don’t know how they do it,” he said. ”I really don’t. It’s quite a testament to every team in the West’s character for not griping as much as I’m doing right now about it.

“You don’t even know what hotel room you’re getting into. You forget the hotel rooms and everything during the course of the day on this trip. It’s pretty Wild. But it is what it is. You can’t use it as an excuse and you’ve got to keep going.”

-- Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on the travelling for his Anaheim team. It was technically said on Thursday, but hey, it's worth pointing out, particularly as the Ducks went from New Jersey on Thursday to Carolina on Friday and Florida on Sunday evening.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 18, 2012 3:55 pm
Edited on: February 18, 2012 6:27 pm
 

Watch: Matt Cooke's rare 3-on-5 goal

By: Adam Gretz

When the Penguins and Flyers get together you can be sure that it's going to be a ridiculous game. Saturday's 6-4 Pittsburgh win in Philadelphia was no exception. There were penalties, a questionable hit from behind by Jordan Staal, and Matt Cooke scoring a rare 3-on-5 shorthanded goal, the Penguins' second shorthanded goal of the game, with both coming on the same penalty kill.

Check out Cooke's goal, which gave the Penguins a 3-2 lead late in the second period.



How rare is a 3-on-5 goal? Consider that it was the first one in the NHL this season, and that since the start of the 2005-06 season there were only 10 such goals scored across the entire league before Cooke found the back of the net. If you go back as far as the 1997-98 season, there were only 20 shorthanded goals scored in those situations before Saturday.

Former Flyers forward Mike Richards has actually scored three of them, and is the NHL's all-time leader for 3-on-5 goals.

Cooke's goal, which resulted in Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov being removed from the game for Sergei Bobrovsky, came just minutes after Staal scored a shorthanded goal of his own to tie the game at two. Staal was involved in another big player earlier in the game when he hit Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn from behind into the boards, resulting in a two-minute minor for boarding. It could have (and probably should have) been more.

It's a play that resulted in a $2,500 fine from the NHL. He has a clean resume in the NHL and doesn't have a reputation as being a dirty player, which probably worked in his favor. Staal was penalized on the play, but the Flyers didn't get a power play as Kimmo Timonen was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. It was simply that kind of day, and not one of the better officiated games you will see in the NHL this season.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:18 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 12:21 pm
 

The value of Jordan Staal



By: Adam Gretz


The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to get one of their injured centers back this weekend, and while Jordan Staal's absence didn't have quite the same impact, intrigue or uncertainty of his teammate, Sidney Crosby, that doesn't take away from how important he has been on the ice for Pittsburgh, or how important his return to the lineup will be going forward.

Over the past month, since Staal was injured in a game against the New York Rangers during a colission with Mike Rupp, the Penguins were getting by with Evgeni Malkin carrying the load at center, and what was basically a patchwork group at the position behind him, a situation that has become all too familiar for a team that is built on the strength of its centers (when all are healthy) over the past two seasons.

That resulted in Malkin seeing a lot of assignments against other teams top lines and, honestly, required his line (along with James Neal and Chris Kunitz) to provide almost all of the offense. With Staal back, the Penguins once again have the player in their lineup that does a lot of their heavy lifting when it comes to drawing the toughest assignments, which can possibly help to free up Malkin's line even more and take some of the pressure off of them.

"Especially on the road there have been situations where it's been head-to-head for Malkin with the other teams top line," said coach Dan Bylsma before Pittsburgh's 8-5 run-and-gun win against Winnipeg on Saturday.

"Now with Jordan in the mix and his line, especially with [Matt] Cooke and [Pascal] Dupuis getting the opportunity to match up against other teams top lines, for the most part, it will free up Evgeni a little bit. Also, I think it's a tough matchup against Jordan as well, which can lead to situations where it might be advantageous to get Malkin's line up against different pairings and different people. Jordan brings a lot in that regard, he's going to be bring a big responsibility against the other teams top line, and it should be helpful in the match-ups and situations Geno's line can find themselves in."

And that's the beauty of Staal's role.

If you look back at his career with the Penguins, especially over the past three years, he's always been the center -- even when you include Crosby and Malkin -- that seems to draw the toughest matchups (using Behindthenet's Corsi Relative Quality of Competition), and this season has been no different. Even though he typically draws the most difficult assignments on the team, his line usually ends up coming away with the upper hand, not only in terms of goals for/goals against, but also in terms of controlling possession of the puck and keeping it in the offensive zone.

Looking at something as simple as On-Ice Corsi, which is simply the total shot-differential (goals, saves, missed shots, blocked shots during 5-on-5 play -- it's basically a way of measuring puck possession and offensive zone time) when a player is on the ice, Staal entered the weekend third in the NHL among players that have played at least 30 games this season, and he's been a positive player in that area in each of the past four seasons. And he's been able to do that while playing against top competition and starting a large percentage of his shifts in the defensive end of the rink.

In other words: When Staal's line is on the ice, the Penguins are keeping the other teams best players bottled up in their own end, which is a pretty good way of making sure they're being shut down. That's an extremely valuable role, and it's one that Staal has excelled in. He's become a big-time player, even though he's never been one that puts up huge numbers offensively.

His return to the lineup gives the Penguins another top-center to pair up with their MVP contender (Malkin) which could make them one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference come playoff time, even if they don't get Crosby back anytime soon.

(Corsi and Quality of Competition data via BehindTheNet.ca)

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 30, 2012 11:55 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 12:01 am
 

Nyjer Morgan to practice with Sharks

MorganBy: Adam Gretz

If you've ever watched a baseball game involving Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan it's a good bet that you've heard an announcer make some sort of remark about his days as a hockey player. If you haven't? Pay attention the next time you do watch a game he's involved in, because it's sure to come up.

Before he was causing the kind of chaos that only he can provide as a Major League outfielder, he was a hockey player in the Canadian junior leagues during the 1999-00 season, playing seven games with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.

So he knows his way around the rink a little bit.

Now he's going to have an opportunity to show what he can do against the best players in the world as he will practice with the San Jose Sharks on Wednesday morning.

Morgan, who was born in San Francisco, said in a statement that he followed the Sharks from the time the team arrived in San Jose back in 1991, and also added "I will never forget the George Kingston and Patty Falloon days. I'm not sure the guys are ready for me!"

Well, at least he knows the team history, making reference to the Sharks first coach, Kingston, and perhaps most well-known player in those dark early years (Falloon).

After Morgan stopped playing hockey and focussed on baseball full-time he was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 33rd round of the 2002 Major League Baseball draft. He's since spent time with the Pirates, Washington Nationals and Milwaukee Brewers over parts of five, let's say ... polarizing seasons. You probably love his Wild antics if he plays for your team, but if he's playing for somebody else? Not so much.

Given his approach to baseball it's probably fair to assume that he would have fit in quite well as an agitator in the Matt Cooke, Sean Avery, Jarkko Ruutu mold had he continued to pursue a career in hockey. He did, after all, record 20 penalty minutes in his seven games with the Pats.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 24, 2012 11:49 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 11:58 pm
 

Should Matt Cooke have been penalized?

By: Adam Gretz

Questionable plays that involve Matt Cooke are going to get more attention than plays that don't involve Matt Cooke because, well, his reputation is what it is, and that's just the way these things work, for better or worse.

That's why this boarding call on Barret Jackman with just a little over a minute to play in the third period of Pittsburgh's 3-2 shootout win in St. Louis on Tuesday night is at least worth another look. Not only because it involved Cooke, but also because it was a big call at a big moment in what was at the time a physical, hard-fought game that was on the verge of going to overtime.

This is the play that earned Cooke a two-minute minor for boarding. The question becomes how much of Jackman's faceplant into the glass the result of a hit from behind, and how much of it was due to any sort of embelishment from the Blues' defenseman or a last second turn? Based on the replay angles it almost appears as if Cooke's initial contact is from the side, and not a hit from behind.

You decide:



Even though he was initially shaken up, Jackman eventually returned to the game.

Because every play gets looked at by the league, this will get another look from the NHL's disciplinary czars, but this seems to be more on Jackman than Cooke, who has continued to be on his best behavior this season. Even with this penalty on Tuesday night, he's still only registered 16 penalty minutes this season. He had over 100 in each of his first three seasons with the Penguins.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 21, 2012 9:49 am
Edited on: January 21, 2012 2:49 pm
 

P.K. Subban fined $2,500 for 'dangerous trip'

By: Adam Gretz

It's difficult to find the exact moment the Montreal Canadiens season went flying off the rails.

There are simply so many possibilities, and Friday's 5-4 shootout loss to the Penguins seems to be just another low in a season full of them. Even though they owned a two-goal lead with 16 minutes to play in regulation, the Canadiens still finished in the loss column for the 12th time in their past 16 games.

The game also brought some more unwanted attention to their young star defenseman, P.K. Subban, for what appeared to be a slew foot midway through the overtime period.



There was no penalty called on the play, but Subban was fined $2,500 on Saturday for what the NHL called a "dangerous trip." When compared to the play the Rangers claim was a slew foot on Brad Richards on Thursday, this one stands out as being way more deliberate and actually worthy of being called a slew foot.

Since he has taken over NHL player safety, Brendan Shanahan has not issued a suspension for a slew footing incident. He did, however, also fine Boston's Brad Marchand $2,500 for an incident involving Matt Niskanen earlier this season.

The last player to actually be suspended for a slew foot was Evgeny Artyukhin back in October, 2009, for his slew foot against, oddly enough, Niskanen during his days with the Dallas Stars. It was a three-game suspension.

The Canadiens enter Saturday's game in Toronto, one of the four teams between them and a playoff spot, nine points out of what would be the eighth and final spot, and they're in desperate need of a win, especially after letting a point slip away on Friday

"It's not even close to enough," said forward Max Pacioretty after Friday's game. "Especially against a team that's hanging around for a playoff push, both of us right now, when you look at that, if it goes the other way and we hang onto that lead ... it's frustrating that keeps happening. We have to find answers."

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Cooke won't face discipline for alleged slew foot
Brad Marchand fined for slew foot
More NHL Discipline news here

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:12 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 12:48 pm
 

Cooke won't be disciplined for alleged slew foot

By: Adam Gretz

Matt Cooke is probably never going to get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to any play that is even remotely close to being dirty or against the rules.

Given his history and the list of plays that make up what is basically a career lowlight film, he doesn't really deserve the benefit of the doubt at this point, either. But that doesn't change the fact that he has made a legitimate effort to clean up his game this season after numerous suspensions, including one last season that turned out to be a 17-game banishment (10 regular season games and all seven of Pittsburgh playoff games) for a hit to the head of New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

In 46 games this season Cooke has been issued just 14 penalty minutes, a total that over 430 players in the NHL have topped this season, including 12 of his own teammates. Because he's Matt Cooke, however, guilt is always going to be assumed when he's the focal point, as it was on Thursday night for an alleged slew foot incident during the Penguins' 4-1 win against the New York Rangers that put him squarely in the crosshairs on Friday

This is the play in question, via Empty Netters' Seth Rorabaugh:



You can see another angle (and get some expert commentary) by clicking here.

Cooke has done some bad things on the ice in his career, but this isn't even close to being one of them, even if the Rangers believe it was a slew foot. Richards did not participate in the Rangers' skate on Friday.

There was no penalty called on the play, and according to TSN's Darren Dreger, he won't face any discipline from the NHL.

And he shouldn't, because that's not a slew foot. At its worst it's tripping, at the very least it's two players getting their feet tangled up as they turn into each other going for the puck. Pretty common occurrence, and if it involved almost any player in the league likely wouldn't have even been a blip on the NHL's radar on Friday.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: December 5, 2011 5:27 pm
 

Pacioretty still unhappy with Shanahan reasoning

By Brian Stubits

The honeymoon for Brendan Shanahan is over, the grace period gone. Now he's beginning to feel some of the blow back that Colin Campbell put up for years.

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty just finished serving a three-game suspension for an open-ice hit that left Penguins defenseman Kris Letang with a broken nose. He wasn't overly pleased with the punishment from the start, and now he is getting in a little war of the words with the discipline boss.

For some, Pacioretty's hit on Letang evoked memories of Matt Cooke's shot on Marc Savard a couple seasons ago. According to Pacioretty, Shanahan is one of those people.

From the Canadian Press, Pacioretty insisted Monday that Shanahan compared the hit to the Cooke hit, something Pacioretty doesn't feel was fair.

“We didn't bring it up, [Shanahan] brought it up,” Pacioretty said. “You can ask my agent [Alec Schall]. He was on the phone. Ask the GM [Pierre Gauthier]. It happened.

“In the back of my mind it's a completely different hit. Savard's a lefty coming across. He has no idea Cooke's coming from the other side of the ice. I'm not trying to get into comparisons, but they [the NHL] compared it to that and we compared it to [Tampa Bay's Ryan] Malone on [Montreal's Chris] Campoli."

Hey Max, I don't see the problem in the NHL comparing it to the Cooke-Savard incident. After all, Cooke received no punishment (it's never too late for some Colie humor).

"Every hit's different. That's what makes this tough," Pacioretty acknowledged. "There is always going to be that grey area. They're doing the best they can to crack down, but it's not consistent.”

For what it's worth, Shanahan denied making a connection between the two hits in a radio interview. Although he didn't go so far as to say Pacioretty was intentionally lying, just that he was probably a bit emotional and took things the wrong way.

Welcome to the job where you can never please anybody, Shanny.

More NHL Discipline News Here

H/t to Pro Hockey Talk

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com