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Bad role models: Danick Paquette compares himself to … Matt Cooke?

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In a classic early ’90s Nike ad, basketball star (and troublemaker) Charles Barkley explained that he’s not a role model. It seemed like a strange way to sell sneakers, but “The Round Mound of Rebound” sent a message about who he was as a basketball player and a person in that memorable commercial.

One cannot help but wonder if much-reviled Pittsburgh Penguins pest Matt Cooke might want to consider filming his own black and white commercial ad pleading with people not to follow his example. It looks like he has at least one player openly hoping to follow in his checkered footsteps, though.

Few would doubt that the Washington Capitals were dumping salary when they traded Eric Fehr to Winnipeg for the Jets’ fourth rounder in 2012 and relatively unknown tough guy Danick Paquette. Most indicate that Paquette is a long way from the NHL (if he ever makes it), but there was a natural curiosity about who this guy really was.

The hockey world received a bizarre introduction to Paquette thanks to a report by Capitals beat writer Stephen Whyno.

Paquette drilled Adam Mitchell with a blind-side hit in a development camp scrimmage on Thursday and was not only unapologetic about it later – he compared himself to a major NHL villain.

“I’m a pretty dirty player,” Paquette said. “I did my job, like Matt Cooke.”

(snip)

And despite the Cooke comparison probably not putting him in good graces out of the gate with Caps fans, Paquette’s play on the ice impressed coach Bruce Boudreau.

“If Colie Campbell was watching it might’ve been a little bit of a dirty hit in the first period, but that’s what he’s gotta be is one of those guys that everybody loves to hate,” Boudreau said. “And he scores a goal, hits a guy with what was a clean hit in the third period and ends up getting into a fight. He did everything what you expect him to do.”

Maybe it’s not the savviest way of introducing yourself, but many might forget that Cooke was a part of the Capitals’ first playoff run with Boudreau. If Paquette can be that type of guy for Washington at the NHL level some day, then Capitals fans might learn to love (or at least accept) him much like Penguins fans talk themselves into appreciating Cooke.

In the mean time, Paquette might want to beef up his cliche vocabulary a bit; this kind of honesty might only get him in trouble.

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.