Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Letang Takes Big Hit from Boulton

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Letang Takes Big Hit from Boulton

Article excerpt

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Penguins will have a hard time finding anything to dislike about their 5-2 victory Saturday against New Jersey at the Prudential Center.

But there might be at least one thing about which they can be concerned.

Defenseman Kris Letang, who missed 21 games with a concussion earlier this season and just returned to the lineup Thursday after sitting out five more with concussion-like symptoms, absorbed a hard hit from Devils winger Eric Boulton early in the third period.

Letang did not leave the game but did seem to be feeling the effects of it during a brief interview later, even though he insisted that was not the case.

"I stayed in the game, played in the game," he said. "I was fine. ... I would have gotten off the ice [if the hit had caused a problem.]"

Coach Dan Bylsma allowed that "it was a big hit," but said he had not seen replays of Boulton's check before meeting with reporters. He also noted that Letang "was right back out there the next shift."

It is not clear whether Boulton's hit will have any impact on Letang's availability for the Penguins' game today in Philadelphia.

Cooke and the Masterton

The NHL's Masterton Trophy is not supposed to be about personal redemption or rehabilitating a player's reputation.

Rather, it is intended to recognize "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

Matt Cooke met those criteria well enough to be chosen as the Penguins' Masterton nominee in voting by the local chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

"Any of those accolades are great, and it's a huge honor for me," Cooke said. "But it's not my focus."

That might be, but he went a long way toward cleaning up his image while earning the Masterton nomination.

Cooke was regarded, for years, as one of the NHL's dirtiest players and delivered highly publicized, dangerous hits on the likes of Boston center Marc Savard and New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh in recent seasons.

But, after sitting out the final 10 games of the 2010-11 regular season and all the first-round playoff series against Tampa Bay, Cooke performed a radical overhaul on his style of play. …

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