Pitkanen could miss start of season
Posted September 3, 2013
RALEIGH, N.C. — 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."
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."