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Penguins benefit from Matt Cooke's modified game

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11:39 AM ET 04.13 | Matt Cooke enters the game against Florida tonight at the BB&T Center with six goals and 10 assists in 41 games. He ranks fourth on the team in hits with 86 and has 33 blocked shots, most of any Penguins forward. And -- the occasional accusation out of Ottawa aside -- he continues to avoid the kind of controversy that was a staple of his career for so much of his time in the NHL. His efforts clearly have paid off to this point. In 123 games in 2011-12 and 2013, he has been assessed 74 minutes worth of penalties, all but 10 of them in the form of minors. He has received one misconduct and no majors in that span. "You've seen him evolve as a player," Shero said. "He had to change the way he played and was perceived as a player. I think he's done that over the last couple of years." That Cooke has been, and continues to be, a valuable role player for the Penguins is beyond dispute. Though his game is best-suited to third-line duty, he can handle top-six work when circumstances demand it. And even though he is a left winger by trade, he can play the right side if needed. He did that recently and shrugged off the switch. "It's not very much of an adjustment," Cooke said. "I'm comfortable over there. It doesn't matter much, either way" Putting a price on that kind of versatility isn't easy, but Shero is going to have to try this summer. Cooke is one of seven players on the major league roster scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July, and three others will be restricted.

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Matt Cooke, Gregory Shamus/Getty Images Matt Cooke, Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
April 13, 2013  11:42 AM ET

That's my boy Matthew. I hear he's up for the Lady Bing.

April 13, 2013  11:49 AM ET

Still my favourite Cooke "highlight".....

April 13, 2013  11:56 AM ET

Karlsson also benefitted from his new and improved game.

April 13, 2013  11:57 AM ET
QUOTE(#1):

That's my boy Matthew. I hear he's up for the Lady Bing.

No you misunderstood. He's up for stealing an old Ladys Bingo money:)

April 13, 2013  12:08 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

No you misunderstood. He's up for stealing an old Ladys Bingo money:)

Hey, if someone is going to seriously consider Subban for the Norris trophy, I can suggest Cooke for the Lady Bing.

April 13, 2013  12:09 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Still my favourite Cooke "highlight".....

You'd have thought it was Evander Hollyfield the way he laid out Cooke.

April 13, 2013  12:13 PM ET

Kane modified Cooke's face.

April 13, 2013  01:18 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Still my favourite Cooke "highlight".....

That highlight must be worthy of some kind of award too.

April 13, 2013  01:21 PM ET
QUOTE(#3):

Karlsson also benefitted from his new and improved game.

PK Subban and Chara are next on his list of beneficiaries for his "new, improved" game.

April 13, 2013  01:26 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Still my favourite Cooke "highlight".....

I think that's the moment Matt Cooke found religion. I'm not sure what kind but, he found it.

April 13, 2013  01:28 PM ET
QUOTE(#9):

PK Subban and Chara are next on his list of beneficiaries for his "new, improved" game.

As he told Letang, Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

April 13, 2013  05:59 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

No you misunderstood. He's up for stealing an old Ladys Bingo money:)

LMAO

April 13, 2013  06:01 PM ET
QUOTE(#11):

Dirty deeds done dirt cheap

LOL...I read that the way it is sung.

 
April 14, 2013  10:23 AM ET

Since getting Brenden Morrow he reminds me a lot of what Cooke used to do. Agitate, throw a big hit to change momentum, go look for trouble in the goal crease. But BM doesn't have the rep and rap sheet that Cooke compiled and ultimately forced him to change his game.
Reformed Cooke is useful but the Pens haven't had that element until they picked up Morrow, which is nice going into the playoffs.

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