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Thursday Wakeup Call: Cooke controversy? Come on

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media columnist

>> The weekly chat will begin one hour early, at noon. That’s because I’ll be flying up to you-know-where in the early afternoon.

As always, you can begin submitting chat entries as early as 6 a.m.

>> Some folks, most seemingly across Canada, thought this was controversial …

It was awful. It was ugly to see Erik Karlsson’s Achilles’ tendon get lacerated by Matt Cooke’s skate, and it’s ugly to think of the loss not only to the Senators but also to the NHL. Karlsson is the game’s most dynamic defenseman, remarkably the league leader in shots at any position.

But the Senators’ instant reaction came across entirely as reflexive whining, a charge that’s bolstered by both GM Bryan Murray and coach Paul MacLean primarily citing who Cooke is rather than what actually happened. I understand it, to an extent. One only needs to remember the reaction around here when Jordan Staal was similarly cut by the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban a couple years back.

Beyond that, though, there’s nothing there.

There’s zero cause for any type of discipline from the NHL office. (And the NHL office apparently shares that view, as our Rob Rossi reports.)

Often these cases are complicated, but not this. Just watch Cooke’s head. Nothing else, just the head. No matter the angle, no matter how quickly or slowly you roll through the video, you see Cooke’s head is turning to the right. And by the time his skate gets even close to Karlsson’s ankle, his head is completely turned right.

I’ll say it again: Completely turned right.

Say what you want about how well Cooke has played in general this season, but he doesn’t have eyes in the back of his head, to borrow the hockey cliche for a great passer. There’s no way he targets any part of Karlsson’s body if he can’t see it.

>> I’ll say this, too: I don’t have a problem with either Chris Neil’s behavior in going after Cooke late, or the officials’ decision to issue Cooke a misconduct at that point.

Neil is doing what he’s paid to do. Hockey players don’t ask if someone meant to do something. They ask who hit the guy who put down their best player. If you’re going to blame Neil or the Senators, then you’ll run out of fingers to point before long.

And the referees, even though stretching the spirit of the misconduct rule, absolutely did the right thing by getting Cooke out of there. It’s old-school NHL, but it works.

>> Excruciating loss for Duquesne’s women last night, just a block away. Those who listened to the radio show this week know that Suzie McConnell-Serio was building this up as a major step for the program, and Saint Joseph’s wins by one point. In overtime. After a big home rally.

‘I’m not going to lie, this one hurts,’ McConnell-Serio said.

Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and more, including his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the top four columnists in the country -- highest circulation category -- by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the top three columnists in the country by the National Headliners Awards. For 2013, he was named top columnist in the state by the Keystone Awards and second-place by the Pennsylvania AP Managing Editors.


  1. Matt Cooke has gone from three straight years with 100 penalty minutes to 44 last year and 18 this year. Well, 8 without the misconduct from tonight.

    The “Well, it’s Matt Cooke, he knew what he was doing,,,it had to be intentional” crowd has gone off the deep end with this one. It’s like everyone in the media in Canada forgot how much different Cooke was with his style of play last year. But since “it’s Matt Cooke,” it’s presumed that he did this with intent because he has a history. The video doesn’t show that. Tough to do something with intent when you aren’t even looking at the player.

    Good luck with your crusade, Paul MacLean, Bryan Murray, and Ottawa media.

    DK: In fairness, it really hasn’t been Ottawa media. At least not those covering the team in Pittsburgh. The beat writer on site Don Brennan, simply questioned it. The color analyst for TSN, Gord Miller, had no issue with it.

    • My apologies to those media members. I guess it’s just a matter of preparing for the storm before it even hits in this case, again, because it’s Matt Cooke.

      DK: No, I was the one up there who just said north of the border without specifying it. I’ll change the wording right now.

  2. I’m not sure why we should be OK with Chris Neil jumping Cooke and throwing sucker punches. I get that the Sens need to stick up for their guy, and that the play happened late in the 2nd. But they had a whole intermission to figure out what had happened and who to go after. So do it early in the 3rd, with someone in Cooke’s fighting class, not after the game is all but over with your biggest goon.

    I’m all for sticking up for guys, and for hockey fights between two willing participants, but this is the kind of stuff that should be getting removed from the game, not encouraged.

    DK: I don’t suggest that you should be OK with it, Rich. Just relaying that I am, that’s all.

    Only other point, and I’ll leave the rest to others: Those aren’t sucker punches, which by definition are unseen by the victim. Neil didn’t even take his gloves off. And Cooke was unhurt.

  3. Cooke lifted his arms to keep Karlsson’s stick in the air as the puck slid along the wall. That is why his foot left the ground in the first place. Cooke’s eyes ARE on the puck. Or at least you can tell that was his focus right after his leg went in the air to shield Karlsson from grabbing it. Cooke was doing his job, plain and simple. VERY unfortunate for Karlsson and NHL altogether. This IS an accident, though, and I’m sure Cooke didn’t have the laceration of Karlsson’s Achilles’ tendon in mind. I watched the replay a dozen times and in slow motion, honest assessment.

  4. DK, How often do players get in contact with players that they might have injured to let them know it was an incident and not on purpose?

    DK: It’s very common. Not sure if it’s appropriate here, though, given that the Senators have already gone public with their blame. Not like they’d believe him.

  5. Late to this party, but I disagree with both Neil’s actions (but I can understand them) and especially with the 10 min misconduct assessed to Cooke. Play should have been dead anyway, and too bad it wasn’t – but things like this happen in hockey (in fact to a number of the Pens star players over the past few years).

    Glad the boys won, but feel sick about Karlsson’s injury. Feel bad for the Sens too, but all of their commentary, that I’ve read at least, is way out of line.

    DK: Welcome, Sherry! Nice to finally have you pop up here.

  6. Those who are reflexively blaming Cookie owe him an apology :)

  7. I dunno. My mother had eyes in the back of her head.

  8. JAL’s All By Myself Morning Links


    1- MLB Transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    3 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 Spring Training Tracker

    BLOGS and such

    5—Pirates Prospects

    Spring Training 2013 Position Battles: The Bench

    Jameson Taillon on Spring Training, His 2012 Season, and More

    6 Bucs Dugout

    Mike Crotta signs with Nationals

    7 This Is Getting Old

    It’s Just a Minor League Deal So It’s Fine.

    8 Hyzdu Headquarters

    A New Pirate

    9 Rumbunter

    BP: Pittsburgh Pirates Travis Snider Breakout Candidate

    10 Green Weenie

    40 Man, Option Shuffle

  9. NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES and Other Media

    11 Bradenton Herald

    Spring training | Russell Martin brings playoff experience to Pirates

    Commentary | Pitching will determine if Pittsburgh Pirates break 20-year losing streak

    12 Yahoo Sports

    Saving grace: Grilli relishes first opportunity to close–mlb.html

    13 Rant Sports

    Pittsburgh Pirates Won’t Miss Joel Hanrahan

    Will Young Pitching Prospects Factor in Pittsburgh Pirates Season?

    14 Reuters

    Barry Bonds’ lawyer seeks to overturn conviction

    15 Morning Sentinel

    ON BASEBALL: Stench of drugs still hangs around baseball

    16 PBC Site

    Barmes hopes comfort level translates into more hits

    17 Business Week

    Yankees May Record Fewest Wins in 20 Years, Vegas Oddsmakers Say

    18 Sweetspot

    Why Mike Trout won’t regress in 2013


    19 Baseball Prospectus

    A Flaw to Declaw Detroit?

    20 Fangraphs

    The Less-Pressing Joey Votto Question

  10. Steelers Blogs

    21 Behind the Steel Curtain

    Antonio Brown is already preparing to lead Steelers to post-season in 2013 and beyond

    AFC North Roundup Finale: Receivers Part I

    22 Steelers Depot

    - Steelers Hire Richard Mann to be Wide Receivers Coach


    23 Daily Telegraph

    Real Madrid 1 Manchester United 1: match report

    24 World Soccer Daily

    10 stories you need to read, 13th February, 2013


    25 Pensburgh

    Take Cover, Matt Cooke. Pens win 4-2.

  11. Some thoughts on last night’s game:

    >Loved Cookie on a line with Neal and Geno.

    >Boychuk seemed to mesh well with Sutter and TK. Let’s hope Disco Dan leaves him there and Cookie with Geno and Neal for a while.

    >Zibanejad (funny name) is darn good on faceoffs.

    >Sid chose to pass backwards at least twice when he should have shot the puck himself. Please Sid, shoot! It’s not greedy, it’s a good thing to do.

    >This team is still taking too many dumb penalties. At least Geno wasn’t the culprit.

    >Letang’s return definitely made a difference in our team’s play last night. Good stuff. Same for Niskie.

    >I wish Big Dawg all the success in the world with the Jets, just not against us.

    • I vaguely remember saying Cooke should have been on the second line the day of the White n Gold game. Something about he earned it with his style of play and production last year….

      Vaguely ironic the events of last night.

      Te Rev. Lovejoy is playing well out in Anaheim, and lots of minutes too. And the Jets almost immediately traded Ponikarovsky to NJ for better picks than the ones they gave up to get Tangradi. Has there been a player in NHL history who has played more 1/2 seasons in different cities than Ponikarovsky? This is his sixth team in FOUR years!

  12. 1. Totally agree on the Cooke controversy. Just look at how he doesn’t even glance at where his skate hits him. No way could you ever hit that spot on purpose without looking. Loved seeing him throw Neil’s stick as well.

    2. What is the deal with Kyle Lohse? Is there any good reason the Pirates aren’t going after him? Or any other team for that matter? Seems to me with a team that needs as much pitching as possible they should jump on him. But then again, I’m just a fan so what would I know? Thanks DK.

    • Dave,

      The Pirates will lose the 14th pick in the draft. The pick should have a bonus value of around $2.5M. It is difficult to give Lohse a big contract and lose a prospect. This is one case where the CBA has helped to reduce spending. You don’t mind giving up a pick for Josh Hamilton, but guys like Bourne and Lohse are a different story.

    • It’s a catch 22 situation brought on by Lohse, the pitcher, and the new free agent compensation rules.

      It wouldn’t be wise to give a 34 yo pitcher with a 4.45 career ERA a long term, high dollar contract. But it also wouldn’t make much sense to waste a high 1st Round draft pick on a free agent for only one year.

      Say what you will about the fairness of the free agent compensation rules, but by the end of the off season every single free agent tied to the loss of a draft pick managed to find a home EXCEPT for the one who had the biggest question marks from the start.

  13. Check out Link 11 – Commentary about the Pirates’ pitching

    Take a look at the picture and the skinny guy on the left.

    • Odd to see that guy come into camp in shape. Maybe he’s ready to realize his “potential”. If not, Gunner will have him for lunch.

      • Is this some type of trick photography or what? Looks like Hustlin’ Jose reduced his chocolate eclair intake during the off season.

    • Good lord. THAT is what Jose Tabata is supposed to look like?

    • He looks thinner than when I saw him with Altoona several years ago. He was almost as thick in the middle and lower body as Pedro back then. Still believe he is actually the older age than young like Marte……he always looked older even when with Altoona.

      • You live around Altoona, Pat?

        • No, I lived near Akron for a while and saw a lot of Aeros games particularly when the Curve was in town. Got seats next to the Cirve dugout and had a chance to chat with a lot of the players and coaches. Great experience for a baseball fan.

          Need to get to Altoona this season, particularly given I won’t be spending time or money going to PNC until they hire a professional front office and field a team that is competitive. Really tired of the Tank and Neal’s Seal team lyingnto me (us) repeatedly!

          • Erie is about 4 hours away, I’d guess. Not to bad for a drive to see a decent ball game. The Curve (now People’s Natural Gas Field) is beautiful. I love going there…and the steak sandwiches are the best I’ve had anywhere ;)

  14. Do you think the Tangradi trade is a move to open a roster spot for another trade? Potentially for a top six forward?

  15. Watched that tie-up between Cooke and Karlsson over and over, trying to understand why Cook’s foot came up off the ice in the first place, and maybe that is why the Ottawa GM & coach are raising a ruckus.
    Yes Cooke’s head was turned away when contact was made, but there’s still that nagging sequence where Cooke’s foot came up off the ice after the initial contact, with the skate-blade positioned perfectly to inflict the injury. Makes one say “hmmmmm”.
    The fact that Cooke didn’t do anything to defend himself when Neil ran him kind of speaks to remorse on Cookie’s part.
    Nice win for the Guins, tough break for the Sens, but hockey aint the same as currling.

    • Seriously, as he hit the guy and was tying himup his,leg came up as partof the move. Nothing premeditated, nothing intentional, an accident….unlike Sid getting repeatedly getting hit inthe head a couple of years ago, those were intentional IMHO.

      • I’m with Buggee. Felt that way last night, still feel that way after some time has passed.

        And for all of you who think it was 100% without any ill intent, ask yourself if you’d still feel that way if the exact same scenario played out with Sid or Geno as the injured player and the other player some team’s equivalent of Matt Cooke. I can’t see everyone seeing it as such a cut and dried unfortunatel “accident.”

  16. 1) If it was intentional Karlsson’s foot would have been half hanging off. If you STOMP on a body part with a skate, well that body part is coming off. Quite honestly I’ve always been surprised injuries like this don’t happen more often. A few years ago Orpik got the INSIDE OF HIS THIGH cut. Up underneath the pants. It happens.
    2) And DK is right about Neil. Sticking up for your teammates is part of hockey, intentional or not. The only thing that surprised me was how long it took. I expected to Neil to go after Cooke but when they had both taken 3 shifts I figured the Sens might let it go. Im not sure why they would have waited until the end of the game. Its like pitching up and in to a guy two days later.
    3) Wow does having Letang back make a world of difference. The space opposing teams give him is an indication of the respect they have for what he can do. They will challenge and crowd Orpik/Martin all day. But when its 58…they back off and try to contain him. The kid is almost irreplacable for this teams success.
    4) Like a fool I will watch ‘coach’s corner’ on HNIC just to listen to what that plaid-wrapped windbag Don Cherry has to say about this, though I already know. I hate that I can’t NOT watch that idiot….

    • Don Cherry is the train wreck of the NHL. Kind of like Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet.

      • More like finding Lindsay Lohan in your living room! :;shudders::

        • I dunno. Have you ever seen that show? It’s horrible yet I watch every week. I’ve learned that 1. Bigfoots (feet?) exist, yet there is no physical evidence 2. They speak Mandarin 3. They know cops carry guns 4. They hide their footprints and 5. If you can’t say for certain it was a bear, it had to be a “Squatch”.

  17. Sid was outstanding last night. Made the game look way too easy.

    Very, very few people in the world can match the skill he displayed in the sequence that led up to Dupuis goal.

    • That pass to Duper was ridiculous!
      Also enjoyed the in-depth analysis on what a “saucer” pass really looks like. My lil wifelett thought it was analysis-overkill, but Errey answered one of her most nagging questions; “what the hell is a ‘saucer pass?’”
      Something we don’t get to see very often is how Fleury “manages” the crease when opposition puts their butt in his face. Me and the lil wifelett got a good chuckle when Root sports camera caught Fleur-Bag cross-checking one of the Sens in the back right before they scored. MAF gave the offending Sen a pretty good pop!
      We make fun of ole Fleur-Bag, but it’s great to see his grit manifest. Goalies really do care…

  18. I know this is a sports blog, but did anyone see that Heinz Ketchup is being bought by Warren Buffet for $28 billion? That company is a Pittsburgh icon! Now, that being said…wonder if Buffet would be interested in buying the Pirates?

    • Just saw that, too. They say they’re keeping HQ in Pittsburgh, but who knows how this will affect that commitment long-term.

      Also US Airways merging with American? Oh wait, that one doesn’t really affect the Burgh anymore, does it…

      • Its doesn’t for travelers but it does for employees. I had a connecting flight from Philly back to Pittsburgh a couple weeks ago. Sat next to a guy who works for US Air. Spends tues/wed/thur in philly working. Works 8 hours on tues then back to back 16 hour days on wed/thur and travels back thur evening. Said he can’t get a job in Pittsburgh despite having 28 years of seniority…. said once the merger occurs all heck could break loose for the employees.

        • Hey TJ – It’s the other TJ! That guy could have been my brother, but I know it wasn’t. Point is…you are right on…all heck will break loose with this merger. Just was away a few weeks ago. Had wonderful service from the Southwest/Airtran folks.

    • Why doesnt guys like Buffet retire? He’s got to be past 80 by now.

    • Buffet has always been into buying companies he felt would be worthwhile to turn around. (So does that mean he’d want the Pirates or not?) At the moment my wife works for a Buffet company – he does seem to leave them where they are.

  19. Really frustrated by the comments of the Senators “we know who was involved”.

    I wouldn’t have stood up for Cooke in years past; but he’s worked extremely hard to keep himself clean and play the way that Mario and Pens expect him to play. Its a tragic injury; one that no one would want to happen but to immediately label it dirty because Cooke was involved is inexcusable. Now I can only imagine our next trip to Ottawa to be a flash back to Long Island a few years ago.

  20. Totally agree on Cooke. Look at the one pic with the story- where Karlsson is screaming. Cooke is turning to look back and there is complete shock/surprise written all over his face. Not the sneer of an malefactor…

    By the way… Great Pictures!

  21. Wow, crazy story developing in South Africa.

    Oscar Pistorius, the double amputee who unbelievably qualified for the Olympics, charged with murdering his girlfriend in his own home.

    Terribly sad.

  22. Anyone happen to notice that the 2nd world wide inspirational athlete was arrested for murder? First you got Livestrong dealing with Lance finallly admitting to doping and now you have “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius shooting and killing his model girlfriend.

    Maybe Ray Ray is a saint after all

  23. Going to throw some trade gossip out there….

    ESPN is reporting that the Avs are close to dealing Ryan O’Reilly to an Eastern Conference team. O’Reilly finished last season with 18 goals and 37 assists. Only 22 years old and has yet to resign with the Avs.

    Not sure if Ray is working on O’Reilly or not; he’s a center which makes me doubt that we are involved but man if you got a kid like that available its hard not to make a run at him and possibly move Geno to the wing.

  24. Still thinking about the Tangradi trade. Only a 7th rounder in return? Are you kidding me? True he didn’t pan out here but c’mon, if you read the positive comments about him from coach Hynes in Wilkes-Barre, this kid was finally starting to get to his game.

    • You’re being sarcastic, right ?

    • Tim, Tangradi was given EVERY opportunity and then some to make it in the NHL. He was unable to transition his game to the NHL level. Had he stayed here, we would have likely been claimed off waivers, because he surely would have been sent down. Then Shero would have gotten nothing, and EVERYONE would have been angry. Had he cleared waivers, he’d have been a career AHL’er.

      • That said, I wish Big Dawg well.

      • Even though no one has mentioned it, I think this may have a lot to do with Tangradi requesting a trade and the Pens not reluctantly obliging him.

        -”I’m pumped. I’m just really excited. I don’t know what opportunity awaits me and what not, but I think it was time for a change of scenery for me. I do believe I’m an NHL player but wasn’t getting that opportunity in Pittsburgh.” -Tangradi.

        The “I think it was time for a change” comment and what seems to be a reaction of little surprise and pleasant relief make me think this is exactly what happened. I’m just happy the Pens let him know he didn’t mean anything more to them than a 7th round pick, even though I think if they waited, they could have possibly gotten a little more for him.

    • Tangradi reminds me of those “AAAA” players in baseball. Destroys AAA pitching, can’t touch the majority of Major Leaguers. Tangradi’s skating ability/grit is good enough for the AHL level, doesn’t translate to the NHL.

    • With his size Tangradi would be better served at this point to learn how to drop the gloves. But he seems so timid on the ice at times. Maybe that elbow he took a few years ago took it out of him.

      • to TJ…
        great point….
        I always wondered if perhaps he was still reeling from that Trevor Gillies induced concussion of two years ago. Look how long it took Sid to recover from his.

      • He was timid before that…at least at the NHL level. H*ll,TK is fiestier than Tangradi is.

    • I don’t fault Shero for getting so little in return for Tangradi, but this certainly doesn’t make the Ryan Whitney trade look like a win.

  25. Drew,

    If I make it by Saturday morning (I hope to), I drive a silver Audi with 2 Pirate bobbleheads in back window and my name on the plate.

    Bye y’all!

    • I’ve notified the various State Patrols to be on the lookout for a car fitting your description.

      Congrats to Duke.

      Doesn’t anyone buy American anymore?

  26. Safe travels, Groat!

  27. My thoughts from last nights game, which I just finished on the DVR…

    1. Despres bailed out Kennedy on a bad turnover. Despres: 1, Kennedy: garbage.

    2. In my ongoing effort to be fair to Paula Martin, the one penalty was ticky tacky at best. Still, 1 tenth of the game spent in the box by one guy without a major penalty is not good. And seriously Paula, could you for once put a little mustard on a pass?

    3. No Neal = No Powerplay

    4. Apparently, screening the goalie is a thing of the past according to Dan Bylsma. And apparently you don’t shuffle lines during practice, you just do it during the game.

    5. Craig Adams made a hit and DIDN’T fall down!

    6. I feel bad for Karlsson, but drop the Cooke conspiracy. If you’re going to slice a guy with your skate on purpose, you probably aren’t aiming for the 4cm opening at the top of the back of his skate.

    7. McFleury’s second goal was a bad one- the first one wasn’t. If the first one was scored by Mario or Sid we’d be talking about sheer awesomeness instead of a bad goal. Sometimes you just get beat. 9.7 times out of 10 that shot does not go in. And I’d say he recovered pretty well after the 2nd goal.

    8. I feel bad for Gerrit Cole after his interview on the Fan yesterday. He almost chocked to death on his response to the Hoka Hey question while trying to not say the wrong thing. It’s a shame BMTIB puts the players in that kind of position. I mean, who want’s to be punished with a scavenger hunt for saying they don’t like sand pits, kiddy pools and telephone poles at baseball practice?

    And I’m willing to bet 1,000 Drew posts that the military training hasn’t stopped. (That’s a lot- Drew’s comments are some of my favorites)

    • In all fairness I think Neal is a great talent; but without Sid or Geno on that power play he doesn’t get the space to get that second goal.

      As bad as the 2nd goal was by Fleury; he made some extremely important saves from that point on. That save on DA on the PP was at a crucial time. He didn’t win the game, he didn’t lose the game.

      • I totally agree on the space aspect. Neal just seems to be the only one burying shots consistently on the PP. Fleury had a little extra time on that play because DA had to present his AARP card before shooting.

  28. I think DK meant that the chat will begin at 11. Noon is the normal time the chat takes place.

  29. Matt Cooke has been cleared of all wrong doing in the Karlsson case. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same of Oscar Pistorius.

  30. Beau Bennett has been recalled.

  31. We’re back up and running!

  32. I saw that it is just -2 degrees Fahrenheit in Winnipeg.

  33. Charlie Sheen is moving on to the Pistorius case now.

  34. Dejan:

    If you take the fam curling (as opposed to the skinheads bowling), then be prepared for them to get hooked on it. Several years ago my brother got his kids involved in it. Before we knew it the whole extended family was into it with tournaments in places like Alaska and Massachusetts. It is an addictive sport for the mind-full of nuance and strategy. Very similar to Chess. And what’s cool about it at the Olympic level is that the American teams are usually comprised of middle age folks from towns like Bemidji, MN. Madison, WI has a nice curling community.

  35. Did the Pens have to drop anyone to recall Bennett?

  36. BTW-Google’s doodle today is delightfully charming.

  37. Here’s a gem of an article I found regarding Tangradi. It makes a lot of sense:

  38. I don’t disagree regarding the ref’s decision regarding Neil and Cooke. Nor with the idea that Neil was doing what he is paid to do. But no Penguin came to Cooke’s defense. No one grabbed Neil. That is a problem in my opinion.

  39. I absolutely LOVE chocolate covered strawberries! =)

    • Did your husband send you those Sherry’s Berry’s things or did Drew or someone?

      • Spunky, we have two local candy shoppes that make them, but they have to be pre-ordered. Usually 3 -4 weeks in advance. The fast that he thought to do this, amazes me. I think I’ll keep him. The local shop he ordered from is McIntyre’s Candies.
        Drew sends me candy, I’m in big trouble at home ;X

        • errr *fact friggin typo lol

        • Dejan ruined Valentine’s day for the men on this blog. He’s taking his ladies on a nice weekend getaway and his employer is paying for a lot of it! How are us schmucks supposed to compete?

          “Here honey are the flowers I got you when I was getting beer at the market. And, oh here is a mass produced card. It says something I might say.”

          • No. You’re wrong. I wouldn’t say something like that.

          • OshKosh, a “mass produced” card makes me happy. Just the idea that hubby THOUGHT to get one is wonderful. The fact that he pre-ordered chocolate covered strawberries AND got me my favorite flowers (star gazer lilies) just totally makes me ecstatic :)

            • My wife, who’s a cake decorator and caterer, made some of the those for a guy at work (for his wife, Drew) and he’s called twice to tell her how wonderful they are. They have 5 kids and they loved them, too. You’d think they were made of gold. He gave her a $20 tip because he said she didn’t charge enough. She liked the praise more than the tip.

              • That’s a very nice story. Really.

                I picked up an $11 pizza special and a box of Brach’s candy hearts that I got for free at work. Really.

              • Spunky, that’s awesome.

                Drew, we picked up a pizza too. It was free from Papa John’s because I called the correct coin toss for the super bowl. But then, after what your wife did to that car, maybe you didn’t think she deserved chocolate and flowers. ;)

            • Well, he is far more romantic than me, Jandy. I haven’t the slightest idea what star gazer lilies are. I just know my cat would devour them within minutes of giving them to her. My daughter gave me one of those candy hearts that said, “Get Real.” And last time I went to Papa John’s my daughter made me get a Taylor Swift CD they were selling as part of a promotion. If JAL gives me his address, I’ll gladly ship it to him for his collection.

  40. I have a different hockey question I would like some honest opinions to:
    Apparently The formerly ‘roided up Great 8 (Ovechkin), can now only score on the power play. Therefore, If you’re the penalty killers, why wouldn’t you stick a man right by him, and follow him everywhere. Essentially making it a 4-3 on one side of the ice. Like a box and 1 in basketball. Are hockey coaches this unimaginative, or just that stubborn to not change the traditional penalty kill philosphy? Or am I just silly for even suggesting this?

    • I’ll let this one out there for Eric Bowser to handle.

    • In the regular season, teams will occasionally shadow a player like Crosby, Malkin, and Ovechkin but that tactic is used more in the playoffs as the stakes are higher, scoring is always lower, and officiating is less inclined to call it close.

      Coaches in the NHL are afraid to be different than the norm because it can backfire quickly if unsuccessful and with the quick trigger by owners and general managers to fire coaches, that just kills creativity.

      It is much easier to coach and demand defense than it is to go with all offense, full steam of ahead.

      As for the PK box, teams do try to slant their coverage to the shooter side of the power play setup, like Malkin up high along RW boards or Ovechkin along LW boards or point. If you can keep your traditional box and make sure the point man doesn’t lose his containment to take away the pass or shooting lane if pass gets through, then it reduces the shooter’s options.

      I believe this is why Ovechkin’s numbers are down. Teams are simply defending him because he’s always in the same spot or at even-strength, a defenseman can just reach the stick in front and angle their body to defense Ovechkin. He’s a one-trick pony because he often avoids the high-traffic area, he doesn’t start & stop in the zone, and as Ed Olczyk and Pierre McGuire criticized a week or two ago… he just does flies through zones in which he should be providing support or going to the net.

      Remember when Kasparaitis and Islanders hounded Lemieux during 92-93 playoffs? Same thing happened to Jagr against Montreal as the Canadiens used 3 defensemen on the ice against him.

  41. What makes a good forward line? Been thinking about this… in the context of Neal having 10 goals and whoever else is on the other wing having 0 pts. Is there some sort of formula you can apply? For example, speed/sniper, superstar, grit. ie1. Dupuis, Crosby, Kunitz. ie2. Neal, Malkin, Cookie? It seemed to me that watching what Cookie was doing last night, he was opening lots of opportunities for his linemates. Just curious what others think about this.

    • Kevin

      Living in Ohio I don’t get to see a lot of the Penguins games but if Cook is doing what you say he is then I for one am thrilled.

      Tomas Holmstrom played this role for the Red Wings for years and it becomes much more important during the playoffs. Red Wing fans (which I am sadly surrounded by) absoulutely loved this guy for his unsung contributions to the team. Causing confusion in front of the net and placing bodies in front of the goalie leads to those sloppy goals that always seem to win playoff games. Especially when the goalie is at the top of his game. He can’t stop a puck he can’t see.

  42. Kevin, you’re right in that Cookie was “making space” for Neal and Malkin. He isn’t afraid to mix it up, or take some abuse by standing in front of the goalie. One of the reasons why I’ll always stick up for Cookie. I don’t that some basics apply to any given “good forward” line. But you see that what Cookie did last night, worked.

  43. Maybe this is where my slight disappointment falls with Kunitz, Jandy.

    Where do you see him fitting on this prototypical “good forward” line?

    By no means do I think he’s a bad player, I just don’t particularly think he’s very good at anything. Solid forward, but not a top line guy for me.

    • You don’t score 4 goals in a game by accident.

      • Goals by year:

        Kunitz: 19, 25, 21, 23, 13, 23, 26
        Neal: 24, 27, 22, 41

        THAT is what a good goal scorer does when put paired with an elite play maker.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Kunitz is garbage, nor do I think he’s hurt the team. I think I’ve made that clear. I just simply don’t believe he’s been nearly successful enough given the opportunity of playing with Crosby.

        Nobody is game planning for Chris Kunitz. Nobody is calling out his number when Crosby’s line hits the ice.

        • My novice hockey eye tells me Kunitz does a lot of things well. Averaging 22 goals or so a year is nothing to apologize for when you combine it with the other things he does well. I think he is an excellant 4th scoring option for any team. He has played to or above the level you would expect for a player with his salary. He’s good value for this team in my opinion and plays a good playoff style hockey.

        • I think your expectations of Kunitz might be a little unrealistic. Last season he finished 49th in the league in goals with 26. Some of those just ahead of him include:

          Claude Giroux – 28
          Johan Franzen – 28
          Tyler Seguin – 29
          Marion Hossa – 29

          Those with less than Kunitz

          Eric Staal – 24
          Dany Heatley – 24
          Patrick Kane – 23
          Henrik Zetterberg – 22
          Vincent Lacavalier – 22

          I believe Kunitz is playing up to his capabilities. He’s not a James Neal; never has and never will be. But you can’t tell me you wouldn’t trade Kunitz for any one of the guys that actually scored less goals than him last season.

        • I think the guys pretty much said it all, NMR. Everyone can’t be a superstar or a one or two player. We need guys like Kunitz, Cooke, and Dupuis. The score, they block, they hit, they help screen the goalie, they do a lot of things well. Would I take Kunitz over Ryan? Any day of the week, and TWICE on Sunday ;)

    • Teams are not going to have 4 wingers like James Neal on the top 2 lines and I think guys like Kunitz are needed on the top two lines, especially a team like the Pens with world class centers such as Crosby and Malkin.

      Kunitz and Neal are fine top 4 wingers, easy this year has been number 3 and 4. Dupuis has had some good chances with Crosby and not converted, though last night he didn’t waste that great saucer pass.

      And I think we all know the abyss that was the LW until last night when Cooke looked like a competent player.

      Pretty stoked to see what Bylsma does with Beau Bennett at ES and PP.

  44. Had to laugh at an article I read on the Tangradi trade. Tangradi was quoted as saying he was “pumped” to be in Winnipeg and that “he never really had a chance” in Pittsburgh to show what he can do.

    I believe it was nearly 30 games; some of which was spent playing with Malkin and Neal. His chance was gift wrapped with a nice big bow and presented to him on a golden platter.

    Not sure how much more the Pens could have done to let him know this is your job to lose.

    • I believe what he was trying to say was that he was used so sparingly that he felt he never had a chance to establish any consistancy in his game. The 30 games or so were pretty scattered over the years. The’re giving Boychuck the chance by playing him and playing him and playing him but they never did that for Eric. That’s how I interpreted his comments.

    • Bylsma’s very dependent on veterans, he doesn’t trust young players much because I think it goes to the post I just posted a little above about owners and GMs so quick to fire coaches.

      Tangradi needed a change of scenery but for him to think he earned much, I’d beg to differ as he didn’t do enough to “bang bodies”.

  45. Ray Shero is scouting the Colorado-Minnesota game..

    About a week or two ago, Wild right-winger Devin Setoguchi’s name popped up as someone who could be on the trade block. I’m not sure either team is much of a match for the Penguins.

    Figure Bennett is going to get a long look at LW with Malkin and Neal, leaving Kunitz and Dupuis with Crosby.

    I suppose the Penguins could always trade Tyler Kennedy in a deal that would allow the team to get another top 2 line winger and move Dupuis into a third line role with Brandon Sutter and Matt Cooke. To make that work, its probably a package of Kennedy plus a pick and/or one of their top D prospects.

    • I understand Ryan O’Reilly is also on the market…he’s restricted FA. He’s also a center I believe.

      The way Crosby praised Bennett, I figured he’d play on his line.

      • I’d be surprised if Shero goes for O’Reilly since he’s more of a center.

        Not sure anyone really matches up well for Minnesota and Colorado that either team would be willing to trade.

  46. John Tortorella is at it again. Brad Richards got 1 shift in the 3rd period, then he started him in OT.

    As the former Governor of Minnesota once said, “You gotta have a mind to play mind games.”

    • Michael Grabner just did his best Jim McGeough impression. Blows by everybody, clear breakaway, and shoots it into the boards. Ah, the memories.

      DK: Well, at least he got a shot off.

    • Isles beat the Rangers in a shootout & Richards gets 2 shifts since 8:45. I’m sure Torts can’t wait to meet the media.

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