Penguins' Cooke not losing sleep over league decision
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Matt Cooke knows that the 2-1 victory in Washington was just about over when Capitals defenseman John Carlson dropped him with a hit to the head Thursday night.
He knows that Carlson made contact on or near his jaw, too.
What he doesn't know is what Carlson had in mind when he delivered that blow, and the Penguins winger made it clear Saturday that he isn't inclined to speculate about it, either.
"I don't know his intent," he said. "Only he knows that. I'm not about to guess what someone else's intent is."
Brendan Shanahan , who handles supplemental discipline for the NHL, reviewed the incident Friday and concluded that neither a fine nor suspension was in order.
Coach Dan Bylsma was adamant later that day that Cooke's reputation for delivering head shots, at least until he decided to exorcise those from his repertoire this season, played no part in the league's decision not to punish Carlson.
Cooke said Saturday that he saw no point in second-guessing how league officials handled the situation.
"I can't really worry about those things," he said. "I just trust that they're doing the right things and that they have everybody's best interests [at heart] when they're making decisions."
The Penguins entered the game Saturday at Carolina with a 2-1 record on their four-game road trip, but it would be tough to make a connection between their record and the success they had been having on faceoffs.
Mostly because they haven't had much in the previous three games.
They were 25-43 on draws in a 4-3 victory eight days ago in Montreal, 17-40 in a 4-3 loss Tuesday at Madison Square Garden and 17-37 against the Capitals.
"That's not good, obviously," center Sidney Crosby said. "We take a lot of pride in that area. I don't know if there's an explanation for it."
Crosby hasn't been having a terribly productive trip on draws before facing the Hurricanes, either. He was 7-18 against the Canadiens, 9-11 in New York and 6-16 at the Verizon Center.
"The last two games, I haven't been good," he said. "Last game, it seemed like every faceoff I took was against [Capitals forward Brooks ] Laich , on his strong side.
"It was always on my weaker side, and that's something I have to make sure is a lot better because you want to be strong from both circles."
He was adamant, though, that a few poor showings do not necessarily constitute a troubling trend, either individually or as a team.
"That's something we always pay attention to, but I wouldn't say it's something we're worried about. We work hard on it, and we know [we have to] focus on it and that we're ready for that.
"Up until the last couple of games, we had been pretty solid. That's something we know we just have to focus on a bit more."
The game Saturday was the second in a row against an opponent that had just made a coaching change.
Dale Hunter had replaced Bruce Boudreau in Washington on Monday, the same day Kirk Muller took over from Paul Maurice behind the Hurricanes bench.
The Penguins, of course, made a switch of their own in mid-February 2009, when Bylsma succeeded Michel Therrien , and won the Stanley Cup a few months later.
That was nearly three years ago, but Bylsma still can remember what it was like when his players were wondering what to expect from him during their early days together.
"When you walk into the room, every eye -- from the trainers to the players to everyone [else] -- is looking at you," Bylsma said.
"Coming into a team that's not in a position they want to be [in], trying to right the ship, trying to maybe [introduce] a new system, a new attitude, a new outlook, those are all things ... when you walk into that room, you feel those eyes."
Center Joe Vitale was a healthy scratch. ... The Penguins will return home for a game Monday against Boston, but then go back on the road to face Philadelphia on Thursday and the New York Islanders on Friday.
First Published December 4, 2011 12:00 am