It’s unfortunate that the main story of Game 3 wasn’t about the Minnesota Wild owning the Colorado Avalanche in 1-0 OT victory or the performance of Semyon Varlamov facing an insane amount of shots. The main story was the Wild’s Matt Cooke sending Tyson Barrie off the ice for the next 4-6 weeks with an MCL injury.
Cooke strikes again.
The story of the day around Denver, and I’m sure in other places of hockey, has been Cooke’s hit on Barrie. The Denver Post’s Adrian Dater wrote a really good piece about it after the game, so I won’t try to rehash what he said too much because I feel the same.
Cooke is a marginal player who has one role on any team he plays for: goon squad. Aside from dishing out punishment on the ice, he hardly ever takes any because he gets his lick in and is gone soon after. The Avs have a link to him as Steve Moore fought Cooke years ago when he played for Vancouver, not long after that fight Cooke’s teammate Todd Bertuzzi sucker punched Moore in the back of the head and rode his unconscious body head first into the ice.
Moore is paralyzed and Bertuzzi is still playing hockey, though Bertuzzi is still tied up in a lawsuit from the incident.
Bertuzzi is to this day public enemy #1 in Denver. Cooke may now be #1 since we don’t see much of Bertuzzi with Detroit’s move to the Eastern Conference.
The story of the game shouldn’t be Cooke’s knee it should be about the very physical game that Minnesota played to take the Avs off their’s. The Avs did not play a very good game at all -getting outshot isn’t something new to them- but the Wild put 22 pucks on Varlamov before the end of the first period.
The Wild as a team weren’t exactly too welcoming of the Avs to the Xcel Energy Center; aside from being physical they were constantly chirping, shoving and generally trying to crawl in the Avs head with anything they could do to knock Colorado off their 2-0 series lead high.
They accomplished that, but Cooke took that mantra too far by removing Barrie for what appears to be the rest of the season, even if the Avs advance.
Cooke is going to be suspended for the rest of the series most likely. Hopefully that only turns out to be a two game suspension as the Avs take the next two and move on. The Avs didn’t need to play that kind of hockey game to win the division title, but the Wild do to finish in a wild card spot and keep alive the hope of moving on.
Hockey is a tough game and it getting a bit physical is fine, but no team should feel good about a victory or winning a series because they gooned up and removed some of the better players from the other team. Cooke may be out for the series, but Mike Rupp is going to be available for Game 4 and his reputation isn’t a whole lot better. The Wild would be wise to keep him off the ice.