Ryan Craig

Clutch is spelled J-O-K-I-N-E-N

Posted May 7, 2009

Let’s go back a few months.

Jussi Jokinen is playing in Tampa Bay on a balky knee, trying to help his withering confidence while shuffling between seeing diminished time on the ice and sitting in the press box as a healthy scratch.

Released twice in a matter of two months by the same franchise, the shootout specialist was all talent and no self-belief, and in the NHL you’re nothing without both.

Fast forward to February of this year – it was then that the Finnish winger was traded to the Hurricanes for Josef Melichar, Wade Brookbank, and a fourth round pick.

“Jussi and I were linemates a lot in Tampa this year,” said Boston winger Mark Recchi after Wednesday night's Game 3 in the playoff series between the Hurricanes and Bruins. “We played very well together and he’s a great hockey player. [The Lightning] gave him away. Carolina stole him.”

In Raleigh, Jokinen found fellow countrymen Joni Pitkanen and Tuomo Ruutu to take him under their wings, and a newly rejuvenated team that spent a lot more time winning than losing. Suddenly, the confidence began to grow, the ice time began to increase, and the healthy scratches were a thing of the past.

In 46 games with the Lightning, Jokinen recorded six goals and 10 assists. Counting the playoffs, the former fourth-winger has scored as many goals and dished out two more helpers in 11 fewer contests.

"Three months ago, I'd been on waivers twice and nobody was willing to pick me up," Jokinen said after his team's Game 3 win. "I have to thank Jim Rutherford. He made the trade and I found my confidence here, and it's been a great ride so far."

Now skip ahead again to the present – the 2009 postseason or perhaps more appropriately, Jokinen’s personal coming-out party.

After his overtime game-winner Wednesday night, the 5-foot-11 left winger’s five playoff goals rank him tied for fourth in the league.

His knack for coming through when his team has needed him most, however, has been second to none, and the clutch contributions haven't gone unnoticed by the Canes' coaching staff.

"Jokinen needed to get off the fourth line. He played too well," head coach Paul Maurice admitted after the win in Game 3 when asked about why Jokinen was paired with Sergei Samsonov and Ruutu. "

"I believe in myself. I can be a difference maker," Jokinen said. "When you have your confidence high, you feel you can do some good things on the ice."

First there was the game-winning tally in Game 4 against New Jersey, a deflection off a Dennis Seidenberg shot with 0.2 seconds left in regulation that squirted past Martin Broduer and helped his team avoid a 3-1 series deficit.

Then there was Game 7 of the same series, when the Canes were 80 ticks away from making tee times before Jokinen one-timed a Pitkanen pass through Brodeur’s legs, tying the contest at three and opening the door for Eric Staal’s heroics just 48 seconds later.

Lastly, there was overtime of Game 3 Wednesday night, where minutes earlier the Canes had just let Boston tie the contest 2-2, and suddenly the home-ice advantage they had just worked so hard for the game before was at risk of being lost right back to the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed.

After the Bruins began the extra period with consecutive solid shifts that saw Cam Ward face several potential game-ending chances, it was Jokinen that spun around and slapped in a rebound shot off a Sergei Samsonov backhander that lit the lamp and sent the Caniacs home happy.

Carolina has won six games this postseason, three of which may very well have gone the other way had number 36 not been on the ice or in uniform.

"That guy is money for us right now," Ward said with a smile. "He's been a huge contributor to our hockey team...we're sure happy he's on our side."

20 Comments

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  • dolfin71166 May 8, 9:43 a.m.

    Jokinen may be clutch,but Cam is "The Great Ward of Carolina!" We'll be there tonight Section 219! Go Canes!

  • StunGunn May 8, 7:06 a.m.

    devilishhockeygirl and edits - YES! We do need to catch a game. I can't afford playoff tickets, but maybe we can still catch a game together. AND, if not this year, then definitely next year a regular season game (but not against the Devils -that would be too hard). Maybe we can all get together to meet each other?

    Me and my husband are definitely the "odd couple" when it comes to sports. He endures them for my sake, but I am the one who really gets into them. I have to remind myself "it's just a game". devilishhockeygirl - I bet you re-wrote your marriage vows - "for richer and poorer - for the Devils only and forsaking all other hockey teams...." :-)

    Happy Mothers Day to you ladies and I hope we can all get together. It's been fun reading your posts.

  • devilishhockeygirl May 7, 3:54 p.m.

    Hey there 'edits' (and 'jgunn')!

    Without a doubt, I'd love to meet you guys Sunday BUT........
    My Mother's Day 'gift' will be taking me back to the 'ROCK'!!
    Can you believe it?!

    My beloved Devs aren't even in the Cup running anymore this season, BUT I'll still be cheering at the 'Rock'!
    My hubby and I are taking our two little ones to visit his fam in South Jersey to catch a NLL Titans game versus Buffalo in Newark on Saturday!

    NY's #22 is a childhood friend of mine and even at 4 years old, our little boy enjoys lacrosse and most certainly adores 'CP' and watching him play!
    Call it good fortune...I not only grew up with alot of ice and snow (thus the hockey girl in me!), but I also had the famous Powells to baby-sit! (God, I feel OLD!)... :)

    No worries though, I will still be cheering loud for the 'Canes tomorrow night and I'll still be posting as I can with you girls (hey, I'll need some excuse to grab a bottle of wine and "work" (i.e. take some time away from my mother-in-law!..shhhh!)

    At any rate, I really do think that we hockey girls need to catch a 'Canes play-off game together!
    BECAUSE...I believe that 'Bawstin' will be dusting off their golf clubs soon enough! ;)

    (and BTW 'edits'- an early "Happy Mom's Day" to you...I'm sure that your Caniac daughters are pretty excited too with these play-offs!)

    Catch you guys later!
    Cheers!

  • edits May 7, 2:41 p.m.

    devilishhockeygirl and jgunn: me and the kids will be at the Cary Ale House on Sunday, my mother's day gift to myself. Give me a call 773-6000, ask for Rebecca. That's the main number at work and I am the only Rebecca here.

  • devilishhockeygirl May 7, 2:01 p.m.

    'jgunn' and 'edits', we need to catch a play-off game together!
    Perhaps in the next series (after 'Bawstin' hits the golf greens?!)...hmmm... :)

    'jgunn' I know that you said your hubby isn't much of a sport fan. My first inkling would be to ask "how did you two happen" then?! :) However, no need to address that...I have no reason to ask!
    My husband and I met here in NC. He's originally from South Jersey (yup, a Philly fan accross the board)! BUT, to win my heart he needed to relinquish any dedication to the Flyers (especially since I have my beloved Devs logo inked permanently on the small of my back!) ;)
    Not to mention, he refuses to take me to another game at the RBC center when the Devs are here! LOL

    Seriously though, I was also a little surprised when Cole was traded, but after watching Lou for so many years trade and make the tough and profound choices that he did, I have a huge appreciation for these GM's and the decisions they face/make. Like you, I couldn't do it. And, I would NEVER be able to put a Cup-winning team on the ice-- my heart would also get in the way of the tenacity needed to succeed in this league!

    Because of his impact on the fans as well as the way he 'completes' this Hurricanes team, I'm glad that Cole's back.
    Another one of our Clarkson boys making their contribution to this awesome sport!

    I truly, truly hope that the 'Canes hoist the Cup again!
    (And if they do, we hockey girls need to be there together!)

    Cheers!

  • dsnyder214 May 7, 1:59 p.m.

    Ward + Jokinen + LaRose + Ruutu = Stanley Cup

    — Posted by housemanagercary

    You definitely forgot + Staal + Gleason
    Without them, we'd be finished!

  • edits May 7, 1:25 p.m.

    Kornisgreat: I don't even give MORONlipschitz the time of day anymore (except now posting to you). I just scan to see if I see his name and I ignore his posts because they are so ignorant. By the way, I like devilishhockeygirl too!

    Chicks for Canes (and Devils)!

  • kornisgreat May 7, 12:52 p.m.

    Hey morton how much did u cry last night after your beloved bahston bears lost last night, and why the heck do u post such dumb posts, crawl back in ur little hole where u cheer for the team that plays against the hurricanes just like u did when we played the devils. On the other hand, devilshockeygirl, you are a really good sport and I thank you for that. Last nights game was fantastic, my throat still hurts from yelling at the game so much. We totally outplayed the Bruins in every facet of the game. Jussi is the man, Tampa has to be totally dissapointed for trading him away. I guess Barry was right when he said that Jussi was the best player when he coached at Tampa. GO CANES

  • mortonlipschitz May 7, 12:38 p.m.

    Ward + Jokinen + LaRose + Ruutu - (Brinda'less + Cole) = (Stanley Cup * .01)

  • camerongilbert May 7, 12:35 p.m.

    bottom line is....without Jussi Jokinen we wouldnt be where we are with a ridiculous series win over the devils to where we are right now with a 2-1 series lead over the #1 seed Boston..........LET"S GO CANES!!!!!!!!!!! WOAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

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