Penguins coach isn't questioning refs after Game 4
The decision may not be "fair or just," as he put it, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma understood why referees ejected forward Matt Cooke along with three others in the third period of Wednesday's Game 4 against the Flyers.
The refs were determined to remove anyone involved in altercations after the whistle, Bylsma said, regardless of whether the player's actions typically would merit a misconduct.
"It was not necessarily a call that a person did this or a person did that," Bylsma said of Cooke, who was ejected with 11:12 left and the Penguins leading, 10-3. "There was extra stuff after the whistle, and it wasn't going to happen in this game. The referees • kind of cleaned the ice at that point and just said, ‘You're gone.' "
The Penguins are prepared for that no-nonsense approach to continue in this Eastern Conference quarterfinals series. Game 5 is Friday night at Consol Energy Center.
After a fight-filled Game 3, referees tightened their grip. There were 26 penalties called Wednesday totaling 100 minutes, and five players were ejected.
"You understood there was not going to be a lot of tolerated extracurricular activity," Bylsma said. "Anything after the whistle, they were right on top of, and that was clear right from the start."
Cooke's situation started when he had Pavel Kubina's stick trapped under his arm and the Flyers defenseman retaliated with a crosscheck. Both were ejected, along with Flyers wing Wayne Simmonds and Penguins center Joe Vitale. Flyers tough guy Zac Rinaldo was booted in the second period.
"Whether it was fair or just, if you're looking for that, you shouldn't," Bylsma said.
Neal, Adams set to return
Forced to sit out Game 4, forwards James Neal and Craig Adams will rejoin the lineup Friday night after serving one-game suspensions. They described Wednesday's game as difficult to watch, at least for a while.
"When we got up four goals, I was OK," Neal said. "It was a different nervousness up in the press box watching. It's not a feeling that you like to have."
Martin misses practice
Injured defenseman Paul Martin, who missed Game 4, was not among the 14 players who took part in Thursday's practice. His status for Game 5 was not disclosed.
Without Martin, the team dressed an extra defenseman Wednesday, an unorthodox lineup that included rookies Brian Strait and Simon Despres.
"I thought the seven defensemen worked really well," Bylsma said.
Rookie left wing Eric Tangradi, born and raised in Philadelphia, posted his first postseason point Wednesday, an assist. He had 10 friends and family members at Wells Fargo Center to share it with him.
"It was very special to have them see that moment," said Tangradi, whose fans wore white shirts to the game.
"Neutral colors," he said. "They didn't want to go with the black and gold or orange."
Staff writer Jerry DiPaola contributed.