Former Bruins tough guy P.J. Stock, now an analyst for the NHL Network, knows how he'd handle tonight's Bruins-Penguins matchup, the first meeting since Matt Cooke ended Marc Savard's season with a blow to the head.
"If I was playing, in warmups -- and you don't ever want to see this happen -- I'd talk to [Penguins star Sidney] Crosby," he told Tom E. Curran and Jon Meterparel on Wednesday's Sports Tonight. "If I was on the Bruins, I'd talk to Crosby. And I'd get him thinking about, you know what? Now you have to pay the price for what your player did.
"It's so easy to just go after the other team's tough guy . . . and think the score is settled. It's not, though. The Bruins are missing one of their star players. They now have to talk to [Evgeni] Malkin . . . They have to talk to Crosby. They have to get in the head of [Sergei] Gonchar. They have to try to make those guys feel somewhat uneasy.
"The last thing I'd ever want to do is tell someone to invoke some sort of physical treatment to Crosby. But, unfortunately, the way the game's going, if [the NHL is] not going to fix any of this, the only way to make a guy who was running around feel a little bad about himself is to [threaten to] hurt one of his team's star players. I wouldn't do anything to Crosby, but in the warmup I'd let Crosby [know] that we're coming for him. And then when Matt gets out there, I think Matt [has to] own up. And I wouldn't be surprised if Matt Cooke fought in his first or second shift. He's a tough kid, and he can hold his own."
Stock feels the Bruins "kind of dropped the ball the last time they played by not going after Matt right [then]" and that "they've put themselves in a situation where it has to be addressed [Thursday] night". However, he also knows it won't be easy.
"This is what happens when there's . . . [an] instigator rule. There's no way to retaliate," he said. "Let's say a guy would have jumped Matt Cooke and hit Matt at that moment [that Savard was injured]. The guy gets two minutes for instigating, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct. And if Matt doesn't fight at all, you're out for 17 minutes and [the Penguins] get a seven-minute power play. So there's no way the rule [works]."
He also knows there's a fine line the Bruins need to watch, because they desperately need the points.
"These points are really important. As much as everyone in Bruins Nation wants them to go out there and physically beat them, you also want to make the playoffs," he said. "You need these points and you have to be smart. At the same time, you have to let the Pittsburgh Penguins know that you mean business, you have to let Sidney Crosby know that . . . he has to be responsible for his players running around. And then you have to let Matt Cooke know that, hey, listen, you did it to one of our star players. It's payback time."
And Thursday night, Stock will be just like every other member of Bruins Nation.
"I'm going to be glued to the TV."