The seven-game suspension for Minnesota Wild forward Matt Cooke is finished, meaning he should be back in the lineup for Game 4 on Friday. Somebody has to go out of the lineup to make room and that somebody? Matt Moulson.
Moulson was acquired by the Wild at the trade deadline from Buffalo, a player to add a bit more offense to a Wild team that doesn't score a ton. He had 13 points in 20 regular-season games with in Minnesota but in these playoffs he's had just a goal and two assists while seeing his time go down to 14:00 per game.
But him being out of the lineup for Game 4 isn't necessarily about performance, it's about an injury that very well could be contributing to that performance.
Yeo: Moulson not expected to play tomorrow. Has been battling a lower body injury. Didn't skate today. #mnwild— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) May 8, 2014
Not good news for the Wild but at least they do have a guy with plenty of experience to slide into the lineup for Moulson with Cooke.
The notorious winger was suspended for a knee-to-knee hit that injured Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie in the first round but he doesn't want to think much about that now, he's looking forward. From Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press:
"Honestly, I'm focused on Friday night, and that's what's most important right now," Cooke said. "I'm not going to go back. You want to ask questions about this series, I'm all for it."
Cooke appears set to suit up for the Wild for Game 4 on Friday at Xcel Energy Center as Minnesota tries to even its best-of-seven, second-round playoff series with the Chicago Blackhawks. He'll do so with the widespread perception that his transformation -- until April 11, he hadn't earned supplemental discipline since 2011 -- was a canard.
"I can't change it," Cooke said. "All I can do is go out and play the way that I play, build the stats that I built over the last three years within my game, and the rest will take care of itself."
When Cooke is playing within the bounds of legality, he remains a pretty effective player. His job is to be physical and he certainly has that part covered. Meanwhile, he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 82 games this season. Not exactly Moulson's production but they play different roles.
Minnesota will be looking to even up its series with Chicago on Friday night.