Matt Cooke is a piece of shit.
I'll get that out of the way ahead of time so that none of you get confused during this post. He may have cut down on his head shots, but he's still a reckless rat, and that is his game.
That stated, I don't give TWO SHITS about getting revenge on him tonight. You know why? Looked at the standings lately? The Senators need these two points. We need all the points we can possibly get so that we don't have to play the Penguins in round one (again).
Which is why, while I love Paul Maclean, I think dressing Matt Kassian tonight would be a fatal mistake. This team was on a roll with him out of the lineup and Guillaume Latendresse adding skill to that Zack Smith line. If you look at the scoring chances data for the game against the Maple Leafs, Kassian was on the ice for over 10 minutes and his line had just ONE scoring chance. Compare that to the game before against the Capitals (in which the Sens had less total scoring chances) when, with Latendresse, that line had 4 scoring chances in the same time on ice.
Kassian has his uses. They amount to him punching another player in the face and sitting in the box for 5 minutes. He is not fleet of foot and as such, has trouble catching players to hit them. Also: does anyone anywhere think for 5 seconds that Matt Cooke would EVER fight Matt Kassian!?! What about his history makes you think that? If anything he'll goad Kassian into punching him, turtle, and give his team a powerplay, and the Senators cannot afford that tonight.
Yes. Matt Cooke took out one of the top players in the league with a stupid reckless play. He's revolting and I don't think he has a place in the NHL. But I think his value to the Penguins is that when he acts like a moron, the other team spends the rest of the game (and the next game) running around, more concerned with getting him back than playing actual hockey.
If we'd clinched already, sure, pummel him all night. But we haven't. So Sens fans can plan all the "hate fests" they want. The Euge can hire Gil Grissom all he wants. But if the team acts like a bunch of morons tonight to get back at Matt Cooke I'm going to be pissed.
Unless the Sens are up 5 goals.
- The always excellent Ups and Downs feat. a great Patrick Wiercioch vs Eric Gryba debate in the comments (hint: I'm with Adnan). [SSS]
- And if you want to see Mark Parisi at his best, in his element, read this. [SSS]
- Amelia with a cool post about your "Sens Place". Check it out! [SSS]
- The guys over at Welcome to Your Karlsson Years are (understandably) pumped about the impending return of their namesake. [WTYKY]
- Speaking of, here is a solid article over at the 6th Sens about the return of Erik Karlsson. [6thSens]
- Sens can clinch tonight with a win over the Pens and a Winnipeg Jets regulation loss to the Sabres. [SE]
- Lastly, the Senators Prediction panel is very optimistic for tonight, only Milks picking the Penguins. [PP]