PITTSBURGH – At least there was one positive aspect of the reckless Matt Cooke hit from behind on Adam McQuaid in Game 1.
McQuaid returned to the game nine minutes later, and appeared to be okay when he spoke about it after Sunday’s practice at CONSOL Energy Center. But Pittsburgh’s resident predator and cheap-shot artist is now back on the NHL radar after catching a five minute major and game misconduct on the hit from behind, and there will be a microscope trained on his activities for the rest of the series.
Cooke has actually been a pretty good player for Pittsburgh during the playoffs with three assists and a plus-5 in 12 games, but he hurt his team badly when he lost his temper when Torey Krug interfered with him, and then he smoked McQuaid when he saw the Bruins defensemen facing the boards.
“I think the referees had to call that. You see his head going into the boards, and it was numbers on numbers," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "It had to be called. Whether it's a 2, whether it's a 5, I'm not going to dispute that. They had to make the call. I'll be honest with you, I have no issues if he's not suspended because I'm not convinced it's a suspendable thing. But I'm certainly not going to say that the referees didn't make the right decision, because I think they did in assessing the penalty.”
The Big Bad Bruins have a reputation for being the physical instigators, but it was Pittsburgh that busted out a can of nasty on the Bruins and, with Cooke's hit from behind, slid toward being just plain dirty.
Boston is happy to keep that stuff out of the series, and it might just happen if Cooke is de-clawed after his close brush with the Department of Player Safety.
Julien did not want to comment on who he thought set the tone for the chippy play in Game 1.
“I don't think I even want to get into that. I think no matter what I say here, everybody will have their opinion," Julien said. "If you're a Pittsburgh fan, it's the Bruins’ fault. If you're a Bruins fan, it's Penguins’ fault. It is up to people to judge what they see, and I'm sure people who are neutral will see it for what it is.
“For me, it's taking care of my team, and I haven't seen us be dirty, if that's what you want to call it. We're just out there playing our game trying to win a hockey game.”