Hurricanes look to acquire on D; Ruutu to return
Posted March 20, 2013
Updated March 21, 2013
The Hurricanes received more bad news on the injury front when it was learned that defenseman Justin Faulk will be lost for two to four weeks with a second degree MCL sprain.
Faulk joins goalie Cam Ward on the injured list with that same injury. Ward’s, however, is more severe at a grade three. The other difference is how the organization will go about replacing Faulk’s presence in the line-up. In Ward’s case, the team dipped into Charlotte and called up Justin Peters, who has split time with Dan Ellis. Both goaltenders have provided solid play.
With Faulk and his team leading 23:23 of ice time on the shelf, the Canes have gone back to Charlotte and have brought up Brett Bellemore to see time on the blue line. This is the solution for now, but more help may be on the way. General Manager Jim Rutherford told me via text that the team is looking outside the organization for a defenseman to help fill the void with the injuries to Faulk and Joe Corvo.
With the condensed schedule, it will more than likely be a seller’s market come the April 3 trade deadline. The Hurricanes have shown in the past that they would rather make a deal early and set the market price than have to overpay for players in a bidding war.
Carolina ranks 29th on the power play overall and 30th at home with the man-advantage. Considering the Hurricanes have one of the most productive lines in hockey, with Eric Staal centering Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty, this leaves many scratching their heads. Head coach Kirk Muller said after Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Florida, where the special teams unit came up empty again, that it is a mental issue now.
The coaching staff has tried several combinations, trying to jump start the man-advantage with little to no success. Muller thinks that the players will eventually sort it out, but a shot of confidence seeing the puck actually go in the net and take the pressure off might be the tonic the power play needs.
Jordan Staal joined me on Canes Corner and said that sometimes with a power play that is not going well, there is the tendency to overthink it. Especially when a team has highly skilled players. Staal would know, having played with Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, that sometimes players defer and try to get the puck to the ‘star player’. Jordan also said maybe with the Canes, there is that thought of making the extra pass to Eric Staal or Alexander Semin instead of taking aim on the opponents net.
Bang your head
Hair metal enthusiast and power forward Tuomo Ruutu is expected to return to the ice Thursday. This addition to the forward ranks is like making a deadline acquisition for the Hurricanes. Ruutu has missed the entire season while recovering from surgery due to a hip injury. Ruutu can be the net front presence that the power play lacks at times and gives the team an even deeper pool of forwards. The Finland native has 10 power play goals the last two seasons, and 51 goals total over the last three seasons. Adding that production into the line-up should give Kirk Muller more options on the power play and at even strength.
The natural fit would be the combination of Ruutu with Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner. But due to the nature of Ruutu's injury, it would not be a surprise if he started out with a lesser role.
One thing that is known for sure with Ruutu's return is that he will bring the noise back in the locker room with his preference of music.