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Matt Cooke suspended for rest of season, first round of playoffs

Boom goes the dynamite.

Consider the message sent. Will it be received?

The NHL suspended Matt Cooke for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the 2011 playoffs, seriously hurting the Pittsburgh Penguins playoff hopes this season. Of course, they're already quite depleted at forward and all that stuff. It's obviously big NHL news, and we've got that covered over at SBNation.com.

How does this impact the Flyers, though? For starters, it definitely helps in terms of winning the Atlantic Division and it probably takes out one challenger for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, as the Pens are already six points back and they've played an extra game.

Losing Cooke won't help things, and it might even let the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning jump over them and grab home ice in the first round with that fourth seed. Giving up home ice to the Lightning or even the Bruins/Canadiens would obviously be less than ideal.

Ultimately, it softens the blow the Penguins could deliver in a first-round playoff series and severely lessens the chance that they could advance beyond that first round. I'll raise a glass to that. Maybe Cooke will learn now? (Well, don't hold your breath.)

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