In the Pittsburgh Penguins' emphatic 6-2 victory over the previously red-hot Atlanta Thrashers last night, winger Matt Cooke earned a two-minute penalty for tripping Thrashers rookie defenseman Zach Bogosian in the second period.
The score sheet said "tripping"; the Atlanta broadcasting team claimed Cooke was either "headhunting" or "knee on knee" with a little "charging involved as well." You can understand why in this video, what with Bogosian's previous injury to his leg and his frustration on the bench and the camera angle on the replay:
The Ice Man sees a pattern forming between the Penguins and Thrashers in which the NHL "looks the other way" on questionable calls -- from a Jarkku Ruutu run at Ilya Kovalchuk last season to Sidney Crosby's infamous speed-bagging of Boris Valabik. Here's the Atlanta Journal-Constitution blogger's take on the Cooke hit:
The top sports headlines of the day
The official team report on Zach is that he suffered a "lower body injury". Like you, I can only hope that these minor and...in Bogey's case... isn't a re-aggravation of the broken bone that was suffered last October. I'm sure we'll learn more about it later.
Was the hit against Bogosian inflicted by Cooke with the intent to injure? Well, you all can hack that out if you wish. As for me, it certainly looked that way. Now...I'm I viewing that through blue-tinted glasses? Am I just being sensitive to the fact that Bogey may have been seriously hurt again?
Perhaps, but watching the Atlanta feed of the hit certainly makes one wonder what Cooke was thinking, at least initially. Luckily, FSN in Pittsburgh had another angle that clears that up; hell, it may even show that Cooke didn't even trip him:
Seth from Empty Netters has it right: Angle One makes it look like a suspension-level event; Angle Two makes it look like a botched shoulder check ... with a little "charging involved as well." Cooke's no saint, but he wasn't trying to end Bogosian's season here.