It wasn't too long ago that Penguins winger Matt Cooke was being widely extolled for having more points than penalty minutes.
That certainly was a switch for a player who had a career high of 129 penalty minutes last season and a career dotted with NHL suspensions and scrutiny, and the turnaround helped in him being named the team's candidate for the Masterton Trophy for dedication, perseverance and sportsmanship.
Then something else happened. Cooke has received a minor penalty in each of the past six games. Those 12 minutes have pushed his season total to 42, ahead of his point total of 38 (which includes a career-best 19 goals).
The recent penalties have been a hodge-podge -- goaltender interference, interference, roughing, holding, boarding and slashing -- but have not been accompanied by any supplemental discipline by the NHL.
Cooke was reluctant to discuss the recent spate of penalties.
"I don't know," he said. "You'd have to ask [the referees]."
Finally, he offered one possible reason.
"I made a comment a couple of weeks ago [about the officiating], and since then it's been constant," Cooke said. "I don't want to say anything else."
Coach Dan Bylsma declined to divulge how he will use his goaltenders during the team's final three games, but it sounds as if No. 1 goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will start once or twice, including perhaps tonight at Boston.
Fleury has started three of the past four games and has played in 65. Backup Brent Johnson started Friday at Buffalo, his first appearance in more than a month because of an injury.
"We're going to stick to the schedule that we have at this point in time in terms of when [Fleury] plays [during] the next three games," Bylsma said.
Bylsma pointed out that with the remaining schedule, Fleury will get a mix of big games and days off leading into the playoffs, which start next week.
"When he'll get back in there, it's going to be a big game against Boston, the Rangers or Philly," Bylsma said of the team's final three games. "He's going to have another game or two to play going into the playoffs, but he also will get the rest that we think is in his best interest."
After having lost four of their past six following a stretch of 14 games without a regulation loss, the Penguins spent practice Monday working on their system and various details of their game, with several trips to the dry-erase board for drill diagraming, before they flew to Boston. ... Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara was named the NHL's second star of the week. He had seven assists and has set career highs with 40 assists and 77 points.penguins