Could flawed free agents Cooke, Jokinen or Demitra help your team?

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hardhitcooke.jpgPierre LeBrun provided a nice little roundup of free agent talk earlier today. I thought I’d expand/provide my two cents on a few of the items. Let’s do it in list form, OK?

Olli Jokinen

The second I read Jokinen’s name, I thought “Obviously, he’s going to the KHL.” Except apparently the oft-derided center’s agent claims that he wants to stay in the NHL. Interesting.

Few players have seen their stock drop as precipitously as Olli Jokinen’s since he left the Florida Panthers. If I’m a fan of a contender, I’m not so sure I would want him on my team … even at a bargain basement price. He seems like the exact type of guy who will lose every puck battle in the playoffs.

Pavol Demitra

Now, Demitra could be very interesting, but only if he’s willing to play for glory and not for money. Years ago, he was known as an explosive forward with the injury history of Wile E. Coyote. He had a disastrous run in Vancouver, though. If it weren’t for an impressive run in the Vancouver Olympics, I’d have some serious doubts of Demitra being NHL-relevant.

Could the somewhat soft but undeniably skilled forward be a nice, cheap option for a team that’s weak on the wings? His fragility means that his team would almost need to consider him gravy, though. He’d be an interesting gamble, as long as the given team isn’t pushing too many poker chips to the middle of the metaphorical table.

Matt Cooke

It sounds like the Pittsburgh Penguins are struggling to bring back the villainous Cooke. He was a nice fit for the Penguins, as beyond his often-past-the-edge hits, he was a great penalty killer, ferocious forechecker and could put a tiny bit of offense up as well.

Now, he’s not going to win any popularity contests, but if his money demands are reasonable he could be a great fit for a team looking for some edge. Maybe he’d fit in with, say, the San Jose Sharks?

LeBrun discusses Matt Cullen, Andy Sutton and a few other under-the-radar free agents in his article. The above three are the most interesting mentioned, though. Do you think your team would benefit from adding Jokinen, Cooke or Demitra? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.