Bruins vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

The New Defense: Part One

Friday, 09.5.2008 / 1:55 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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The New Defense: Part One

Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford spent most of the offseason retooling the team’s defense.  While the goal of getting younger accomplished itself when Glen Wesley (39) retired and Bret Hedican (38) departed soon after the season ended, adding some mobility and offensive skill was still an issue.

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Rutherford accomplished that by bringing 24-year-old Joni Pitkanen in from Edmonton in exchange for Erik Cole, but the rebuilding process had already begun in that regard. 

Joe Corvo came over last season in a trade with Ottawa and immediately filled a long-open void in the team’s lineup - a skilled puckhandler with offensive capabilities, similar to Pitkanen. 

Through those two trades, the Canes went from having no defensemen with that skill set to having two can cause as much havoc on the offensive end as they prevent in their own. 

To demonstrate that change in dynamic, consider that Corvo’s 21 points as a Cane were just one less than the Hurricanes’ next most prolific scorer from the blue line, Frantisek Kaberle.  Corvo played only 23 games with Carolina.  Kaberle played 80.

“Our transition game will be much stronger,” said Rutherford.  “We’ve always looked for mobile, puck-moving defensemen and power play guys. We’ve had guys that have been OK, but not at the level of Joe Corvo and Joni Pitkanen.  These are two guys that I don’t think it’s unreasonable to both have 50-point seasons.”

Corvo ended up with a career high 48 points with Ottawa and Carolina last season, so 50 wouldn’t be a stretch at all, especially if he produces like he did after arriving in Raleigh.  That mark is also attainable for Pitkanen, who posted his best offensive season with 46 points with the 2005-06 Philadelphia Flyers.

While such things won’t be made certain until training camp is well underway, Corvo and Pitkanen, along with Matt Cullen (36 assists in 59 games), should cause other teams plenty of trouble while running the point on the power play.

Rutherford also indicated that formerly estranged defenseman Anton Babchuk, back from a year in a Russia and known for his hard shot, could be in that mix as well.

”We’ve got Pitkanen and Corvo ahead of him on the power play, but if he’s playing well there’s no reason he couldn’t be on the second unit and do well there,” said Rutherford.

At any rate, the days of the five-forward power play seem to be over.

We'll be back starting Monday with parts 2 and 3 as well plenty more content to preview the coming season.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62