Seven things we learned Saturday in the NHL


Matt Cooke quickly went down after he cross-checked Shea Weber in the face.

There were cheap shots, there were snubs, there were great goalie performances and groin injuries galore.

Here are seven things we learned Saturday in the NHL:

Cooke is up to his old tricks

Matt Cooke will never change. At least, that’s how it seems whenever he makes decisions like the one he made Saturday. The Minnesota Wild forward received a pile of (deserved) criticism for cross-checking Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber in the face, then refusing to drop the gloves with him. The sad thing is it’s a common storyline throughout Cooke’s NHL career.

During his stints with the Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins, Cooke developed a reputation as one of the dirtiest players in hockey for delivering headshots, knee-on-knee hits and other cheap shots. However, after he left the Penguins following the 2012-13 season, it appeared he had turned a new leaf. That is until an incident in the playoffs last season when he took out Colorado Avalanche defenceman Tyson Barrie with a questionable hit. On Saturday, he added to his legacy.

Heading into the game against Nashville he only had 11 penalty minutes, to go along with two goals and four assists, in 18 games this season. You’d think low penalty totals would help clear his name, but his reputation won’t change if he continues to do things like this.

Predators are no fluke

With a 3-1 win over the Wild, the Predators became the first team to reach 60 points in the standings and they’re on pace to finish the regular season with 120 points, which would break the franchise’s current record of 110 that was set during the 2006-07 season. The Preds have made the post-season in seven of the past 10 years, but they’ve never had a team perform the way this year’s is. They’ve allowed the fewest goals in the league with just 93. That puts them on pace to allow just 186, which would also be a franchise record for an 82-game season. If the Preds can have the same success in the second half of the season they’ll go from being the plucky underdogs to a potential Cup favourite.

Semyon Varlamov is playing out of his mind

Good luck getting the puck past Colorado Avalance netminder Semyon Varlamov. In the past three games, the 2014 Vezina Trophy nominee is 3-0 and has made 127 saves on 132 shots. He had a 54-save shutout against the Blackhawks earlier in the week and followed that up with 36- and 37-save efforts against the Senators and Stars, respectively.

Subban gets snubbed

His Montreal Canadiens lost the game, but P.K. Subban was solid as he went up against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins. His effort in Saturday’s game illustrated why so many fans felt he was snubbed and deserved a spot on the 2015 NHL All-Star game roster. Even Don Cherry pointed out some of the positive things he was able to do against the best player in the world.

Bad lower-body injury night for goalies

Both Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings and Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers had a rough go of it Saturday. It looks as though both netminders will be out for the foreseeable future after suffering injuries on innocent-looking plays.

Crosby takes one in the pills

Any dude that saw this immediately started sweating. Sid ended up potting the OT winner against the Habs and he probably celebrated the goal in a higher octave than usual.

Jets take efficiency to a new level

If only hockey were this easy all the time.

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