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Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Oilers on Pitkanen

Wednesday, 09.24.2008 / 9:03 AM / 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 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45