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Pitkanen could miss start of season

Posted September 3, 2013

— Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Tuesday that injured defenseman Joni Pitkanen might not be ready to start the season - a big blow to a unit that struggled a year ago.

Pitkanen broke his heel in April in a game against Washington when he raced down the ice in an attempt to beat an icing call. The injury cost him the final 13 games of the season.

Rutherford said Pitkanen is due to arrive in Raleigh later this week and will have a CT scan on his left heel.

The veteran defenseman has 57 career goals and 225 assists in nine NHL seasons and has spent the past five years with Carolina.

Carolina surrendered the second-most goals in the league last year, backed by the third worst penalty kill unit.

"Scoring goals is not an issue for the Hurricanes," Rutherford said. "I'd like to think with Kirk (Muller)'s system in place from the start of camp, with a more balanced defense, we can cut down on the goals against."

Canes focused on ending postseason drought Fialko: Canes focused on ending postseason drought

This year mark Muller's first full-length preseason camp in now his third year at the helm. 

"You're not feeling like you're playing catch-up," Muller said. "If you really look at it, when we first came in it's halfway through the season, you're pushing to make the playoffs. Then last year is the lockout year."

Outside of Pitkanen's foot, and first-round pick Elias Lindholm's banged-up shoulder, the Canes' early injury report is light -- including a clean bill of health for the captain.

"I foresee no problems at all, I feel really solid, I've been skating on it for awhile now," center, Eric Staal said referring to a knee injury he suffered playing for Team Canada at the World Championships.

"Just a few weeks ago, I jumped on the ice with him for the first time and he looked like he usually did," said Hurricanes forward and Eric's brother, Jordan Staal. "I didn't see that coming, I thought he'd be a little slower, but he looks really good on the ice."

At risk for Carolina is a fifth straight year of no postseason play which would be the longest drought for this franchise since packing its bags from Hartford. The goals are higher than just making it, however.

"We have to look forward to the Stanley Cup," said defenseman Tim Gleason. "Not just playoffs, but the Stanley Cup. And I think that starts as soon as training camp opens."

19 Comments

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  • kheffn Sep 3, 5:34 p.m.

    So one of the worst defenses in the league, playing in the past in the weakest division in the league, may not have one of their better defensemen who consistently logs 20 - 25 minutes per game for the beginning of the upcoming season. Not good news for a team, in a new, much tougher division, that acknowledges that they can't have the bad start they've had the last few years. I'm pulling for hem but this isn't good news.

  • babedan Sep 3, 6:13 p.m.

    The best thing that happened for the Hurricanes, Joni being out for the season for be the best for the season.

  • kheffn Sep 3, 6:35 p.m.

    The best thing that happened for the Hurricanes, Joni being out for the season for be the best... View More

    — Posted by babedan

    What's the facts, not opinion, for your post. Who do they start instead that's better?

  • Cragsdale Sep 3, 7:00 p.m.

    So one of the worst defenses in the league, playing in the past in the weakest division in the... View More

    — Posted by kheffn

    Statistically, the Canes do very well against tougher opponents, it's the cupcakes that they lose to all the time.

  • zoom Sep 3, 7:00 p.m.

    Love him or hate him, we need everyone 100% for the start of this season with the new division. Ready to see what the team can do with a full training camp. Love the new college ticket policy, hope it really helps pack the house every game. Let's go Canes!

  • Cragsdale Sep 3, 7:01 p.m.

    The best thing that happened for the Hurricanes, Joni being out for the season for be the best... View More

    — Posted by babedan

    What's the facts, not opinion, for your post. Who do they start instead that's better?

    — Posted by kheffn

    What are the facts... and teh statistics are that Joni consistently has teh worst +/- for a 1 line pairing defenseman. as for who would be better? Heck, everyone else on the defense would be the answer to that.

  • Cragsdale Sep 3, 7:04 p.m.

    http://espn.go.com/nhl/player/_/id/2136/joni-pitkanen

    just see his career +/-...

  • Cragsdale Sep 3, 7:05 p.m.

    http://espn.go.com/nhl/player/_/id/3730/marc-andre-gragnani

    This is a good replacement

  • wlcat609 Sep 3, 7:30 p.m.

    I'll bet Cam Ward is delighted with this......maybe Cam will get a decent defense group in front of him this season....sure wasn't there in the past including when 'The Happy Wanderer' (25) played!

  • sanacito Sep 3, 8:46 p.m.

    I hope that Joni can get up and skating at 100% ASAP...just not with the Canes.

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