by Tony on 11/12/08 at 02:13 PM ET
A while back, I wrote an article opining that the Penguins’ signing of Matt Cooke would make Pens’ fans forget Jarkko Ruutu.
Well, I’m here to acknowledge after 15 games, that wasn’t a true statement.
The simple fact is that Matt Cooke and Jarkko Ruutu are entirely different types of players.
First of all, after watching Cooke for a while now, I don’t really classify him with the hockey definition of an “agitator”. Ruutu, Sean Avery and the like are NHL agitators, a.k.a. pains in the asses.
You know the kind I mean; The infuriating smirks, the facewashes, the coaxing of penalties, etc, etc.
So in that aspect, that’s one character from last season’s club that GM Ray Shero really hasn’t filled. I know that that’s what was said when Cooke was signed, but now, I just don’t see the role comparison. And quite honestly, the Pens could use a little more grit like that. I realize they have Paul Bissonnette who is more than willing to mix it up, but he’s not talented enough to be in the lineup on a regular basis.
However Cooke, all 5’11” and 205 lbs. of him, is tied for 10th in the NHL in hits with 44 (Brooks Orpik still leads the league with 58, by the way). Ruutu has 30 for the Senators. And the thing is, Cooke is a smarter hitter. He knows when to take a run at someone. He knows where the “line” is, and doesn’t cross it (or at least, doesn’t get caught). As opposed to Ruutu, who’s prone every now and then to the “dumb” penalty, and who went way over the line with a flying elbow to the head of Maxim Lapierre of the Canadiens in last night’s game, and will probably get suspended.
Offensively, Cooke hasn’t gotten the goose egg off of his scoresheet in terms of goals. However, he’s been a clear asset and an improvement over Ruutu in terms of his forechecking and cycling of the puck with his linemates. His centering pass to Jordan Staal allowed the Pens to cut the lead to one in the third period of last night’s game.
Thus far, I’m very content with the signing of Cooke. But in my view, we should stop saying he was brought in as the replacement for Ruutu, ‘cause it’s just not matching up.
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Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
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