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Oilers on Pitkanen

Wednesday, 09.24.2008 / 9:03 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Oilers on Pitkanen
Saw this on Dan Tencer's blog on the Edmonton Oilers' Web site and thought it was of interest:

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"Oddly, as the team continues to stack up skill on the back end, the experiment with Joni Pitkanen failed. I suggested to [assistant coach Charlie] Huddy that Pitkanen was the most talented blueliner to play for the Oilers since Paul Coffey; he didn't disagree. So, why didn't it work? "It was just a matter of being able to fit in with the gameplan," Huddy explains. "Sometimes guys have their own reads on how they should play and things like that. At some point you have to be able to follow a gameplan, and not that Joni didn't, but once he got out there it was kinda one direction."

Ultimately, as Huddy suggests, one of the Oilers' biggest beefs with Joni was that he just wasn't able to figure out when to give it the green light and when to tap the brakes. Huddy has a bit of an interesting take on that reality, putting forth the hypothesis that Pitkanen was simply trying too hard. "Credit to Joni, he wanted to win hockey games," Huddy emphasized. "A lot of times when you have the ability to skate like that and handle the puck and get up ice as quickly as he could, he always felt he could get something out of it."

That was posted a few weeks ago so sorry if I'm late to the party, but I just saw it for the first time.  So, what to make of that?  Canes fans got a glimpse of Paul Coffey in the late stages of his career and didn't get to fully appreciate him, but he was, uh, pretty good, so that's obviously a favorable comparison.

"Trying too hard" is also not a bad problem to have - he's still a young player, having recently reached the magical age of 25 for defensemen that Jim Rutherford has spoken of only five days ago (happy belated birthday, Joni), so he's still learning a bit.

Huddy's comments also support what's been suggested earlier, that Pitkanen is good fit for the Canes' style of play, which is one of the most run-'n-gun styles you'll find around the league.  I'm betting the Canes will give him that "green light" more often than the Oilers did.  As Rutherford said recently, "We play a system that’s fun for the forwards and fun to watch, but as a goalie not fun to play."  Sorry, Cam. 

The Canes are well aware he's an offensive minded guy, which is why he'll be paired with the team's best defensive defenseman, Tim Gleason, so start the year.  They should complement each other well in that regard.

I don't know about you, but I'm really anxious to see what PItkanen can do in actual game situations, particularly for one situation - the power play.  There haven't been any power play drills in practice yet, but I'm sure there will be tonight.  Pitkanen and Gleason are both very likely to be in the lineup here at the RBC Center tonight - we'll see what they can do.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
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10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 54 15 19 -13 34
J. Skinner 54 19 12 -3 31
V. Rask 52 12 19 0 31
J. Staal 54 12 19 8 31
K. Versteeg 53 10 21 1 31
E. Staal 54 9 21 0 30
E. Lindholm 54 8 16 -9 24
A. Nestrasil 47 7 12 0 19
J. Nordstrom 43 5 9 2 14
R. Hainsey 54 3 11 -11 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 15 11 6 .908 2.38
E. Lack 9 10 3 .901 2.74
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