Cooke draws ire from all directions, even own team

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guerinandcooke.jpgMatt Cooke is the hockey equivalent of a college friend who destroyed someone’s apartment during a weekend binge; sure, he’s supposed to be your friend/teammate but that doesn’t mean you can justify his regrettable actions. Mark Spector wrote this story, which echoes news that Bill Guerin made some critical comments of his fellow Penguin.

“Here’s what they didn’t say when they wrote up those new head shot rules. What they couldn’t say.

It was the collective whisper we heard there from a gathering of men who know the NHL game well, but could never come out and verbalize what they really think about a cheap shot artist like Matt Cooke.”

It’s already pretty extraordinary to receive public criticism from guys on opposing teams and former division rivals (like Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who must have been at least a bit familiar with Cooke from his days with the Washington Capitals). But when someone on your own team expresses criticism – even an older player with less to lose and more to say like Guerin – that’s something.


(My bet is that teammates often feel queasy about these controversial hits but still admire/respect/need those scrappers enough to keep that to themselves.)

Now, I hate to say this but until the league has the courage to do something legitimate about these hits, Cooke is an asset to a team like Pittsburgh. No one likes to admit it, but having scoundrels (players who pester and intimidate in equal measures such as Cooke and Steve Ott) often helps you win. I will be happy when the league changes Cooke from a “player you hate until he’s on your team” to a player who better change his ways if he wants to earn another year’s worth of NHL paychecks.

In the mean time, you can’t blame teams like Pittsburgh for outfitting their mostly talent-laden rosters with a few functional bad apples. I don’t like it and – apparently – his teammates don’t like it either, but the truth hurts. Just ask Marc Savard.

Video: On Hockey Day in America, Auston Matthews did this . . .

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 11:  Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on November 11, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Flyers 6-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.

Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.

On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.

As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.

Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages

Video: After a slow start, Evander Kane is on a roll for the Sabres

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For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.

Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.

He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.

(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)

Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Sharks

BOSTON, MA - FEBRUARY 9: Dominic Moore #28 of the Boston Bruins defends Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks during the first period at TD Garden on February 9, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.

The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress

Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?

Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions

Video: Trouba called for a hit to the head on Stone

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Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.

The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.

Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.

As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.