Monday, April 22, 2013
It’s Not One Or The Other - Sens Can Win AND Say Hello To Matt Cooke
A lot of leery Senators fans today, worried not only that coach Paul Maclean will dress the big bad Matt Kassian, but that Sens players will be so bent on revenge against Matt Cooke that they would gladly lose the game if it meant they could deliver a scalp to Erik Karlsson’s empty locker stall.
Many think the two concepts are mutually exclusive. Not so.
The Senators can challenge Matt Cooke to fight and still win the hockey game. There are fights every night in the NHL, many of them for much lesser transgressions than what Cooke did to Karlsson. It would even be weird for someone not to challenge Cooke.
I seem to remember that the last time someone stood up for Karlsson in a big way was Matt Carkner making an example of Brian Boyle in last year’s playoffs. That energized the Senators in a big way and they won that game, with most players citing Carkner’s efforts as a turning point.
Best case scenario for Ottawa fans tonight against Pittsburgh would be Chris Neil scrapping with Cooke at centre ice in front of 20,000 screaming fans and then Alfie scoring a couple of goals to put the Penguins away.
That’s what I’d call “entertainment”. Not sure why everyone thinks only one of these things can happen, to the exclusion of the other.
Of course it would be stupid for Ottawa to take countless penalties trying to get at Cooke. But they can hit him hard every shift and challenge him to go in the traditional hockey way without getting an instigator. If Cooke declines, that just looks bad on him and will further cloud his reputation. If he obliges, then we’ll see what happens.
Clearly, Ottawa needs to come out of this game with two points and if it means watching Cooke decline to defend himself, then the Sens just need to let it go for now. But to not challenge this guy would be a woefully inadequate, almost embarrassing response from the Senators players.