Matt Cooke is done for the regular season + 1 round, meaning he may have played his last game in a Penguin uniform. Let's pretend for a second the Pens get completely healthy (including 87), and they get through the 1st round. You would have to assume they'd be playing good hockey at that point, and consequently, may decide to move on w/o a guy who's been out of the line-up for more than a month. It's not a stretch.
And I've got to think Mario and Shero will try to move Cookie in the offseason, and possibly waive him if they can't do that. #66 does not like to be embarrassed. And that's exactly what Cooke has done here. Buying out his contract would be a stiff price, with a $900,000 cap hit for the next 4 years. They won't do that. But here's predicting that people will get a glimpse of the hypocracy among NHL organizations when they see that dealing Matt Cooke (or seeing him picked up off waivers) will not be as hard as it appears. Do you doubt Ray Shero can get a deal done? Not me.
When he's not being a moron, there is value to Cooke's game. He's gotten 10+ goals in 9 of his past 10 seasons, and has been a +31 over his past 2 years in Pittsburgh. Without 2010 Selke finalist Jordan Staal in the lineup for 1/2 the year, he's been one of the main reasons the Penguins lead the NHL in PKilling. You can guarantee that at least one GM in the league will believe they can straighten out his stupid antics.
Appears Cooke has just apologized HERE. Moving on from Matt Cooke...
Eff him. We've got Pascal Dupuis!!! I love my Pascal. And maybe the best part of losing Cooke would be the opportunity to resign Duper (UFA). Another phenomenal PKer, Dupuis had a hand in the first 3 goals of the night. The first one was meh...a backhander that somehow got through Jimmy Howard's pads. Then after assisting on Chris Kunitz's 22nd, he got the back breaker with an SHG. After TK made it 4-Nil, it was happy times.
Then Brent Johnson decided to suck. Zetterturd made it 4-1 late 2nd. Early 3rd, Filppula makes it 4-2. Sphincters clinch. PK goes to shit. 4-3 and clinching. 4-4 barf. We're still trying to figure out what Brent Johnson was looking at when Mike Modano's wrister was buzzing by his left ear. I start calling for Fleury to the rescue. These are the bad times.
Somehow, the Penguins hold on for 1 point. Pierre McGuire continues to give the Red Wings hand jobs throughout the OT. Nothing.
Shootout...Brent Johnson, who I've been ripping for the entire 3rd period, comes up huge. For the record, Johny played great for the 1st half of the game. Based on the 2nd half, maybe you could conclude there was some luck involved there (we recall a "GREAT SAVE" per Pierre, where Johny was sprawled across the crease, and with the entire upper 75% of the net open, Darren Helm shot one into his pads).
Anyway...zero G's through the first 5 SO attempts. We thought Kunitz would be the 3rd shooter for the Penguin. Disco Dan is smarter than you (and me). James Neal is sent out. BURIES IT.
HUGE 2 points with Philly and NJ on tap. Gutty effort. Had to feel a chubby for Neal. He hasn't been awful, but he hasn't been burying the puck, either. What a call by Disco!! If Neal goes on a tear...look back at this decision from Bylsma.
my personal 3 Stars from the Pens:
#1 Star - Duper. 2 G, 1 A, +3.
#2 Star - Kunitz. G (22nd), A, +2. Dude is having a great season, even w/o 87 centering his line.
#3 Star - Neal. Not much of a game, but the SO winner was huge. Interestingly, the official 3 Stars had him listed as the #1 guy. He was a -1 with 1 SOG, and curiously passed up a few shots. Not his greatest game.
Hopefully, the PK collapse (2-4) was just a blip. I don't want to miss Matt Cooke.
Power Play is still dreadful. James Neal played the point for the brief amount of time that the Pens could even manage the puck into Detroit's zone.
Can we win a fricking face-off please? Letestu is missed.
I'm not expecting the world out of Alex Kovalev. I am expecting a little bit more, though. Just a bit.
Letang looks exhausted. I doubt we'll have our playoff position wrapped with any time to spare, but when Orpik comes back, does Bylsma pull a Boudreau and rest Letang before the playoffs? Just a thought.