Tag:Matt Cooke
Posted on: December 2, 2011 5:15 pm
 

Carlson likely to avoid punishment for elbow



By: Adam Gretz


Late in the third period of Pittsburgh's 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, Penguins forward Matt Cooke was on the receiving end of what appeared to be an elbow to the face from defenseman John Carlson, which you can see in the above video. It was a play that initially went under the radar during the game, and Penguins fans were not happy about it after the fact.

There was no penalty called on the play, and Cooke, it appears, was uninjured as a result of the hit. It also seems that Carlson will not recieve any supplemental discipline from the NHL.

Here's what the league said in a statement sent to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
"The Department of Player Safety's view is that, with barely enough time for one last rush, Carlson was desperate to join that rush. He doesn't even see Cooke coming toward him until the last minute (his view of Cooke is obscured by Ovechkin until the last moment) and he actually cringes to avoid contact if you can pause it when they're a couple of feet apart.

"The worst-looking part of the play is when Carlson flares out his right arm. But he does that as he's past Cooke, in a "get out of my way, I have to get up ice" kind of way."
Of course, one can't help but wonder what the NHL's response would have been had the shoe been on the other foot and it were Cooke delivering a similar hit on Carlson, or any other player.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, however, insisted that Cooke's reputation did not influence the NHL's decision.

More NHL Discipline News Here

(H/T Pensblog for the video)

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Posted on: November 29, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Max Pacioretty disagrees with suspension



By: Adam Gretz

The NHL suspended Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty for three games on Monday for his hit on Pittsburgh's Kris Letang during Saturday's 4-3 Penguins overtime win, which ended when Letang, of all people, scored the game-winner on a controversial play in front of the Montreal net. 

On Tuesday, Pacioretty spoke to the media for the first time following the announcement and didn't seem to agree with Brendan Shanahan's decision, and also gave his version of what took place on the ice.

Pacioretty said that during his hearing, Shanahan compared the hit to one that Penguins forward Matt Cooke delivered on Boston's Marc Savard two years ago that eventually helped lead to the crackdown on hits where the head is the target and principal point of contact.

"I think that couldn't be further from the truth," said Pacioretty, via the Canadiens website (full video above). "If you look at the situation, me and Letang made eye contact and I think that's what gave me the green light to try and hit him. I felt he put himself in a vulnerable position. Maybe I shouldn't have even thought about hitting him because of the way the wind is blowing right now with head shots. I'd like to see a little bit of consistency. If the onus is on the hitter every single time I'd be fine with the suspension, but you've seen instances where they've placed the onus on the player receiving the hit as well. That's why I'm confused and a lot of other players are confused as well."
More On Max Pacioretty

He also talked about how he felt Letang lowered his head prior to the hit, and that when he looks at the play in slow motion he can see that Letang changed his position as he saw Pacioretty coming. When asked if the suspension would change the way he plays and hits people, Pacioretty acknowledged that in the future he would not deliver that hit, and also added that since the start of the season he's been afraid to hit opposing players.

"This whole year I haven't had many hits," said Pacioretty. "Bbecause, I'll be completely honest, I've been scared to hit people out there. A lot of times you're going in on the forecheck and the defenseman turns his back to you, and things of that nature happen. It's a fast game and injuries are going to happen, and that's why it's tough out there, especially for someone who is expected to finish their hits. The blame is still on me. I made a bad decision and down the road I'm definitely not going to make that hit when someone is coming through the middle. Though, I don't see why I should give him free pass to come through our zone and get a free shot on net."

More NHL Discipline News Here

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Posted on: November 26, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: November 26, 2011 9:59 am
 

Foligno 'disappointed' with Crosby

crosby1By: Adam Gretz

In his return to the lineup against the New York Islanders on Monday night, Sidney Crosby wasn't really on the receiving end of any major contact, with Travis Hamonic getting credit for the only hit on him over the course of the game. Over the past two games against the St. Louis Blues and Ottawa Senators it's been a bit of a different story, as not only has Crosby been had more physical contact come his way, he's also finding ways to get involved in it.

Not only is Crosby quickly climbing up the NHL's scoring leaderboard with seven points in his return to the Penguins' lineup, he's also quickly racking up the penalty minutes. In three games this season he's already been assessed eight penalty minutes, which is as many as his controversial teammate, Matt Cooke, has managed to rack up in 23 games.

Early in the third period of Pittsburgh's 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators on Friday night, Crosby was issued a two-minute minor for elbowing Senators forward Nick Foligno following some contact between Foligno and Pittsburgh's goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury (poor video quality here).

Foligno was also sent off for roughing.

Following the game Foligno spoke out about he was "disappointed" that Crosby would do that.

"I just said you've been talking about it all summer, and then you go and do that," said Foligno. "I was just disappointed that he would do that. I fell over Fleury and Crosby is hitting me, so I look up, I see it's him, and I'm not going to do anything, and then he elbows me in the head. I just kind of got a little frustrated that he would do something like that, so I went back at him. It's not a big deal, but it is something he preached all summer about that we should limit that, and then he goes and does it, so I was just a little disappointed. But, you know, that's a small part of the game and it's over now."

As he recovered from his concussion, Crosby was outspoken about eliminating hits to the head. During his first press conference back in September he was asked if the NHL should have a complete banishment on all head shots, and he responded with, "I don't think there's a reason not to take them out," before pointing out that probably only 50-60 hits that happen over the course of an NHL season are a hit to the head, and that the NHL would not miss such a small number of plays.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 10:07 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 10:21 pm
 

Checking in on Matt Cooke and his new style

cooke1By: Adam Gretz

Throughout his career Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke has usually been used as an example of what not to do on the ice when it comes to physical play. He's been suspended five times, including the final 10 games of the regular season, and all seven of Pittsburgh's playoff games last year, and is perhaps known most for the hit on Boston's Marc Savard that started his still on-going battle with concussions, and also helped spark the NHL's rule changes regarding hits to the head (rule 48).

Following his most recent suspension, one that hurt the Penguins in their opening round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, Cooke vowed to change his ways and clean up the way he plays hockey. His claim was greeted -- and rightfully so -- with a sense of, show us, don't tell us, and actions speak louder than words.

A month-and-a-half into the season and he is now actually being used as a positive example of what to do on the ice. At least in the eyes of the Penguins. 

In an article penned by the Canadian Press on Wednesday, Penguins general manager Ray Shero cited Cooke's early season play as an example the NHL can use for what Brendan Shanahan is trying to accomplish with player safety.

From Shero, via the CP:
"For Brendan Shanahan and player safety, here's a guy that they can show on some highlights and the videos, where he's not taking the hit or he is pulling up (in dangerous situations)," said Shero. "He's still got a ways to go. But in the first portion of the season here and exhibition as well, he has changed the way he's played and he's still a really good effective player for us in his role.

"That's good news for us and it's good news for Brendan Shanahan in terms of what he's trying to do."
Through 18 games this season Cooke has not done anything remotely dirty, and has been sent to the penalty box just two times -- once for interference and once for unsportsmanlike conduct for diving -- for a grand total of four penalty minutes. Over the past four seasons through the same number of games he registered 23, 22, 25 and 24 penalty minutes.  Along with that, he also has a positive differential in the number of penalties he's drawn compared to the number of penalties he's taken for the first time in four years.

(Penalty numbers via BehindTheNet)

Matt Cooke Penalties Drawn vs. Penalties Taken: Past Four Years
Year Penalties Taken per 60 Min. Penalties Drawn per 60 Min. Difference
2011-12 (18 Games) 0.3 1.4 +1.1
2010-11 1.8 1.2 -0.6
2009-10 1.4 1.1 -0.3
2008-09 1.6 1.3 -0.3
2007-08 1.4 1.2 -0.2

This is definitely a positive development and a good start for the Penguins, as well as Cooke, because he's always been a valuable player when he isn't sidelined with a suspension or sitting in the penalty box following an ill-timed penalty (he can score, and he's one of the top penalty killers on the best penalty killing team in the league).

But it's going to take a lot more than 18 games for fans -- if not opposing players as well -- around the NHL to believe that he really has turned the page and become a different player.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: October 21, 2011 3:47 pm
Edited on: October 21, 2011 3:51 pm
 

Penguins PK fuels fast start

CA1By: Adam Gretz

The incredible run of injuries that arguably helped derail the Pittsburgh Penguins season a year ago has found a way to continue during the start of the 2011-12 season. Playing without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik, Tyler Kennedy and Kris Letang (though, his recent absence was the result of a suspension) at various times, a group of players that adds up to nearly half of their salary cap commitments for the year, they have still managed to win five of their first nine games and earn at least a point in seven of them.

They've done all of this while being outscored during 5-on-5 play (18-14), and with a power play that has slumped down to a 10 percent rate over the past seven games, scoring on just three of its past 29 attempts. One of the most important aspects of their fast start has been a penalty killing unit that has been as dominant as any other group in the league. This isn't exactly a new development for the Penguins, as they finished with the top spot in the NHL last season at just over 86 percent. Through the first nine games this season they look to be even stronger.

Pittsburgh has found itself in a shorthanded situation 31 times this season and has only allowed one goal to the oppositions power play. That goal came during a 4-on-3 power play, typically considered a tougher penalty to kill than a traditional 5-on-4 due to the extra space the power play has to work with, in overtime during their loss to the Washington Capitals last Thursday.

Other than that? They've been perfect. Even more impressive is the fact the Penguins have already managed to score three shorthanded goals this season. They're not just stopping the other team's power play from scoring, they're flat out beating them on the scoreboard. At this point there is only one other team in the NHL on the "plus" side of the scoring while shorthanded, and that's Chicago which has a 2-1 edge during its 17 shorthanded situations.

When talking to opposing players after some of their recent games the one common theme everybody keeps bringing up is how aggressive the Penguins are on the penalty kill. And that's not really anything new. Every team says it wants to be aggressive, or take away time and space, or whatever other coaching cliche you can throw out there. But the Penguins seem to take it even further than most teams and never let up. Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell called them "relentless" following a performance that saw his team go 0-for-4 on the man advantage and surrender a shorthanded goal during a 4-2 loss last Tuesday.

Such an aggressive style while down a man has a potentially large payoff  -- like, say, a shorthanded goal -- but also carries some risk if you're not wisely picking and choosing your spots, which is something Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban brought up following Thursday's game -- they don't put themselves in bad situations.

"They pressure the right way and they pressure at the right times," Said Subban. "They play a smart game. They don't put themselves in trouble, they play smart, they limit your opportunities and they have guys that are willing to sacrifice."

Goaltenders generally get the most attention for a team's strong penalty kill, and Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson have both been excellent in shorthanded situations this season. But Pittsburgh also does a fantastic job of not allowing teams to even get an opportunity to create shots or establish any sort of presence in the offensive zone. Through nine games the Penguins are allowing just .768 shots per minute in shorthanded situations, a mark that is eighth-best in the NHL and well below the league average (at this point) of .857.

They're willing shot-blockers and do an excellent job of not allowing teams to gain a clean entry into the zone or get an opportunity to set up their power play, and that's a testament to the play of forwards like Jordan Staal, Craig Adams, Pascal Dupuis and Matt Cooke, as well as defenseman Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek. More than one Canadiens forward, including Brian Gionta, commented on Thursday night about his team's struggles to generate any speed through the middle of the ice

"I haven't seen many of their other games," said Gionta. "But tonight we had a hard time getting up through the neutral zone, and when you don't come clean through there and you're trying to win battles to get the puck back it's basically 50-50."

With players like Crosby and Malkin out of the lineup the Penguins aren't going to put up the type of offensive numbers typically seen from them, and they're going to have to keep grinding out wins. Completely shutting down the other team's power play is a good place to start.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: October 18, 2011 9:30 am
Edited on: October 18, 2011 12:18 pm
 

Pens' Letang has NHL hearing for boarding call

By Brian Stubits

It seems like it has been a while, but Brendan Shanahan is going to get another visit to his office.

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Kris Letang has been summoned to a hearing for his boarding call against Alex Burmistrov of the Winnipeg Jets in Monday's 2-1 Winnipeg win.

With the Penguins trailing by one the entire third period, the game began to get very chippy and intense. Letang's hit didn't help settle the matters. The hit in question took place at the 13:08 mark of the third period and Letang did receive a penalty for boarding on the play.

Now a show of hands: Who thought Letang would be the first Penguins player to get a hearing this season? That's what I thought. Everybody has been waiting for Matt Cooke to slip up and revert to his old ways, but he has so far remained true to his promise to be a changed man.

If Letang is suspended, it will be the first for a hit to the head or boarding penalty, the two areas of focus this preseason, since the regular season began. But this one won't be easy.

As the rule states, the onus is on the player not to make a bad check, but the circumstances are considered. Among them is if the player being hit simultaneously or immediately prior to the hit altered his position. In this case Letang would have an argument that Burmistrov did, take a slight turn directly toward the boards just before Letang hits him, but not before Letang had already committed to the check.

Even with that considered, though, I'll guess Letang will receive some form of punishment, likely small. Shanahan will err on the side of too much punishment for the time being, I believe, to really make sure the message gets across.

Video: H/t to @JoeYerdonPHT

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Posted on: October 10, 2011 1:42 pm
Edited on: October 10, 2011 2:03 pm
 

No discipline for Sarich; Bouchard's upheld

By: Adam Gretz

There was some debate over the weekend as to whether or not Calgary Flames defenseman Cory Sarich would be suspended for a hit that left Penguins forward Matt Cooke dazed during Pittsburgh's 4-3 win on Saturday night. The immediate reaction, aside from the surprise that the discussion was taking place with Cooke being on the receiving end of such a hit, was that it would probably be viewed as a full body hit with little chance for any sort of discipline.

In the end, that is indeed what the NHL has determined, and Sarich will be available when the Flames travel to St. Louis on Monday afternoon to take on the Blues.

Gary Meagher, senior vice-president public relations and media, told Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun that Sarich's hit was considered a "full body check" and that even though there was some contact with the head, it was not the principal point of contact, nor was it targeted by Sarich.

The veteran defenseman insisted that he wasn't trying to do anything illegal when he delivered the hit, and also suggested that it was "embellished a little bit."

Meanwhile, Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard filed an appeal on his two-game suspension for a stick-swinging incident against the Columbus Blue Jackets over the weeked. That suspension sent Boucard's agent, Allan Walsh, on an epic rant that was directed at Brendan Shanahan for running what Walsh called a "kangaroo court."

The appeal was heard by Gary Bettman Monday morning and was ultimately upheld, meaning Bouchard won't be able to return to the Wild lineup until Thursday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.

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Posted on: October 9, 2011 12:16 pm
Edited on: October 9, 2011 6:10 pm
 

Sarich hit on Pens' Cooke: Clean or no?

By Brian Stubits

When it comes to the NHL's new crackdown on hits to the head, everybody just naturally assumed it wouldn't be long before Matt Cooke of the Pittsburgh Penguins was involved. Well they were right ... sort of.

In Saturday night's Penguins game against the Flames in Calgary, Cooke was on the receiving end of a questionable hit from Calgary's Cory Sarich. Have a look at the hit for yourself.

After watching the hit mulitple times (not quite sure what's up with the audio remix in the middle of the video, though) it looks clean to me. But it's possible that it won't to Brendan Shanahan, the new sheriff in town.

Bob McKenzie of TSN says the early returns are good for Sarich. "Sounds like Sarich's hit on Cooke being viewed by league as 'full body' hit with incidental contact to head. Not deemed 'targeting.'"

There are multiple factors working into play on this one. First of all, the hit drew attention largely because of the way Cooke reacted. He instantly began holding his head after the hit. Sarich took to defending himself a little bit after the game.

"It's out of my hands. We'll see what happens," Sarich said. "I was just coming over. I was actually trying to get a little lower. I was pushing off trying to put something into the hit. I don't know. It didn't look too exciting to me. He made it look more exciting than it really was."

But then there's Cooke's history, which is unlikely to garner him any respect or sympathy from outside of Pittsburgh. Among the hits on his list is the perhaps career-ending shot on the Bruins' Marc Savard.

For Shanahan, though, that cannot weigh in the decision. In this case, Cooke was a victim of the shot, not the other way around. To me it would seem that it was a hit where the principal point of contact was, in fact, the body and the contact with the head was more in line with being incidental.

In this situation, especially concerning such a talked-about player in this realm of hitting like Cooke, Shanahan would be wise to issue a video describing the hit regardless if he hands down a suspension or not. For my two cents, I say not.

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