Bruins angry about "dirty hit" by Matt Cooke

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We’ve this type of hit too many times this season, and it seems that
every week we’re writing about another player leaving the ice on a
stretcher as the result of a questionable or dirty hit. Yesterday
Marc Savard suffered a concussion
and briefly lost consciousness as
the result of a blind-side hit by the Penguins’ Matt Cooke.

The issue at hand is the fact that currently there exists a gray area
when it comes to these sorts of hits; obviously elbows to the head are
illegal but the blind checks that are causing a number of these injuries
are not. Mike Richards was not suspended earlier this season for a very
similar check on David Booth; the slight difference there was the fact
that Richards’ shoulder and not his elbow did the damage. However, both
hits have the exact same devastating effect.

There’s no question that Cooke will be suspended for this hit and it
could be a lengthy one; he’s already been suspended three times by the
NHL and twice this season. Of course, Bruins
coach Claude Julien believes it was a dirty hit:

“It’s pretty obvious that was definitely a dirty hit,” said Bruins
coach Claude Julien, who said Cooke should be suspended. “That’s
probably the classic blind-side hit to the head.”

Watching the replay of the hit, it certainly appears that Cooke lays
his elbow and arm into the head of Savard. Cooke maintains that he was
just finishing his check, but even if that was the case there’s no need
to lift your arm for the hit.

These type of open ice, blind sided checks that occur after a player
releases the puck are exceptionally dangerous, but they are still not
illegal…technically. Sidney Crosby wants clarification.

“At some point, there’s got to be a clear indication from
the league (what’s legal and what’s not) because we’ve seen this so
many times now,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “You don’t like
to see anyone, your own teammate or an opposing player, lay on the ice
like that.”

I understand the thought that there
needs to be better clarification in the rules in regard to these type of
hits, but there’s no question that the elbow in this case did the
damage. So whether the hit itself is illegal or not is irrelevant; he’ll
be suspended and it should be for a long term this time around.

Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.