Off Day Topics: Cooke Suspension & AHL East Division Race

Monday, March 21, 2011
Cooke to Miss 14-17 Games
I'm sure most of you have heard the news about Matt Cooke's recent headshot hit on New York Rangers' Ryan McDonagh in Sunday's afternoon game. The result from his 1:30 EST meeting in Toronto: a suspension for the rest of the regular season (10 games), the first round of the playoffs (4-7 games) and a loss of pay exceeding $200,000. Steep penalty but for a repeat offender the NHL is taking a stance against blatant head shots.

Effects on WBS, and the AHL's East Division Standings with thoughts on playoffs after the jump.

Luckily this move won't affect the WBS Penguins right now as Aaron Asham is set to return to action and take his place in the lineup against Detroit tonight. Unfortunately with Cooke also suspended for the first round of the playoffs, it is even more unlikely the WBS Penguins will see Dustin Jeffrey until Pittsburgh's season is over.

This is okay though because I believe Nick Petersen is going to be the real deal and perform well from here on out. Petersen has mainly seen time on the fourth line so far since his return from shoulder injury but he and another former Wheeling teammate Ben Street, were a deadly duo in the ECHL. He scored his first AHL goal in yesterday's 2-1 win over the Charlotte Checkers. This was a real highlight reel type goal, check it out here.

AHL East Division Race                                      Points Now        Max Points
WBS Penguins: 69 games played, 50-18-0-1,          101 points          123 points
Hershey Bears: 72 games played, 42-23-2-5,            91 points          107 points
Norfolk Admirals: 68 games played, 35-19-8-6,        84 points          108 points
Charlotte Checkers: 71 games played, 38-25-2-6,     84 points          102 points 
Binghamton Senators: 70 games played, 36-27-3-4,  79 points           99 points

Looking at the standings, the Pens are in control with 11 games left to play. They lead second place by ten points and three games in hand and need just seven points in the last 11 games to clinch the first seed in the East Division. The Penguins also play the Bears three times before the end of the regular season.

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