NHL

Penguins Knock Off Bruins 2-1; Cooke With Another Questionable Hit…

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The Penguins picked up their second come from behind win in as many days this afternoon as they knocked off the Boston Bruins 2-1. Though they surrendered the first goal and had to play from behind, they probably could have won this one by two or three. Tim Thomas made sure that wasn’t the case and gave his team a chance to win, which is all that you can ask of a goaltender.

The talk of the game was obviously the hit that Matt Cooke laid on Marc Savard. It was a brutal display of complete and utter jackassery…in moments like that I just do not know what is going through Cooke’s mind. He already has quite the reputation around the league as player that tends to take liberties with the rules. I can’t remember the last time that I did an on air spot with XM in which we weren’t talking about something that he did that was suspension worthy. I am usually the guy who is trying to defend Cooke, but there is no way I can do so this time. He came across the middle of the ice and blindsided Marc Savard, who laid motionless on the ice for several minutes after the hit.

It is just an unfortunate situation for all involved. Cooke adds to his reputation and is sure to be suspended, Savard will likely miss some time and the Penguins line-up takes a hit. Most folks in the locker room, including the coaches seemed to more concerned for Savard than in making specific comments about the hit. Here are some thoughts from around the room…

Sidney Crosby was among those who didn’t see the hit take place live as it happened, but wasn’t happy seeing Marc Savard lying on the ice.

“I didn’t even see it. I think a lot of guys didn’t. I don’t think guys like seeing that, whether it’s your own teammate or an opposing player laying on the ice like that. That was scary… but I didn’t see it honestly.”

Crosby thinks that there should be some clear cut rule or initiative put in place to police these hits, especially with the number of them that have popped up as of late.

“When you’re talking about a guy hurting his head…we know this has come up how many times now. At some point there is going to have to be a clear cut rule or clear cut direction because right now it seems like there’s an in between somewhere. You gotta hope that the players will police it and do the right thing, but at the same time its a fast game and there are hard hits. So at some point there’s got to be a clear indication for guys since we have seen this so many times now.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t want to get into specifics, but he feels that the hit was a demonstration in exactly what the league is trying to eliminate. He also feels that they will take care of policing this situation.

“That’s probably the classic blindside hit to the head. After watching the replay I’m usually pretty reserved when it comes to making comments. Definitely the League will take care of it. You have to trust that they’ll make the right decision. But it was a blindside hit to the head and that’s exactly what we’re trying to get rid of.”

When pushed about what the right decision would be, Julien didn’t mince any words.

“You know what it is.  A guy like that has to be suspended.  That’s the way I see it because it’s an elbow to the head from the blindside.  That’s exactly like the examples they show of what we need to get out of this game.  We have a guy who has a concussion, who’s our best player and he’s going to be out for a while.  He was out on the ice for a bit and that’s unacceptable.”

Other players, such as Alexei Ponikarovsky, Pascal Dupuis and Brooks Orpik all concurred that you just don’t like to see situations like that. All players polled seemed to concur with Crosby’s assessment from above…it was frightening to see Savard down and they do not like head shots being in the game.

The irony of the situation is that head shots are one of the main topics that will be discussed at the GM’s meetings this week. You can bet that this situation will be front and center.

Julien stated in his comments above that Savard was suffering concussion symptoms, but gave additional info later in his presser.

“His motion is fine.  It’s a concussion; how severe, I don’t know.  We haven’t been able to evaluate that yet.  But he was out for a bit and when you’re out for a bit that’s enough.”

I would imagine that the league will make a determination on this situation tomorrow. I will keep you posted…

Some quick hits…

Marc Andre Fleury was solid all day long, he finished with 21 saves and picked up the victory for a second consecutive day.

The Penguins penalty killing unit had their streak snapped… after killing 23 penalties in a row, they allowed a goal to the Bruins Blake Wheeler. The power play also had their streak snapped, they had scored a PP goal in five consecutive games, but came away with two five on fivers today.

Alexei Ponikarovsky has played two games for the Penguins and now has two points. He has been as advertised. Big boy that isn’t shy about going to the net. He has been a nice fit so far. Dan Bylsma praised his work ethic and compared him to Chris Kunitz in that he is willing to do the dirty work to free space up for his line-mates.

“You know I think there is not a lot of flair to Alexei’s game.  The goal is evidence that he picks up the turnover, gets his feet moving, moves the puck and on a simple play drives the net.  He doesn’t have a lot of flash.  You don’t have to read.  You don’t have to figure where the guy is going he just drives the net.  He gives Geno more time and space with the puck. He creates space for him and creates havoc at the net when he shoots the puck to the goal.  He is pretty simple with his game plan, getting to the offensive zone and playing there he is pretty responsible.  I don’t think it’s a guy you have a lot to read out of. It’s not a lot of fancy criss-crossing type of play.  He’s simple, straightforward a lot but in a different way like Chris Kunitz in terms of driving and creating space in the offensive zone. It may not be as physical, but in a lot way he’s a similar player.  It just gives the skill player a little bit more room.”

Jordan Leopold had another solid day. He was on the ice for a hearty 19:12, was a +2, and blocked two more shots. He has been a great pick up thus far.

Chris Kunitz has been a new man since the Olympic break. Getting him back to 100% was like adding another player at the deadline. He has been all over the ice, contributing on the scoreboard, shooting the puck and opening space for Sidney Crosby. Kunitz fired 6 shots on goal this afternoon.

Pascal Dupuis scored another goal and is playing some of the best hockey of his time as a Penguin. He just looks like a confident hockey player right now. He is skating hard, creating turnovers in the offensive zone, backchecking and best of all finishing. One other aspect of his game that looks brand new is that he is crashing the net. He used to play more of a perimeter game, but is now getting to the crease and showing some hands around the net.

The Penguins hit the ice for an optional skate tomorrow and do not get back to game action until Thursday.

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About Brian Metzer

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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.