Tracking the Storm

Jokinen Performing Playoff Encore

Thursday, 10.15.2009 / 11:49 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Jokinen Performing Playoff Encore
Besides mainstays Eric Staal and Cam Ward, there was little question about who deserved recognition as one of the heroes of last year’s playoff run. This season, Jussi Jokinen is proving that his performance was no fluke.

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Through six games, the 26-year-old versatile Finn leads the Hurricanes in scoring with two goals and three assists, picking up where he left off after scoring seven goals, nearly all of them crucial, in the 2009 postseason. While he may not continue that near-point-per-game pace for the entire season, it’s not hard to imagine him hitting the 50-point mark for the first time since his rookie season with Dallas back in 2005-06.

“Offensive play is so much with your confidence,” said Jokinen, who had seen his regular-season point total decrease each season since his first year in the league. “For me, it’s been there since the playoffs.”

Jokinen’s continued offensive success is great news for the Hurricanes, who gave him a new two-year contract in the off-season and are counting on him to produce somewhere near the level that he showed in the playoffs. It’s easy to forget that, although he quickly became a solid all-around contributor after arriving via a trade with Tampa Bay in February, he only scored one goal in 25 regular-season games with Carolina.


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Part of that was due to his evolving role on the team. Originally counted on more for his defensive play, Coach Paul Maurice rewarded him with more playing time in offensive situations and on the power play as the year wore on.

“It has lots to do with ice time,” said Jokinen of why his offensive numbers climbed so sharply in the playoffs. “If you get some ice time and some power play goals, it’s easier to do stuff offensively.”

This year is a little bit different for Jokinen, as his stellar postseason allowed him to start the season with an offensive role instead of having to earn it in other ways. Maurice has noticed that difference, hinting that he would actually like to see more of what got Jokinen this far in the first place.

“There’s still another level for him,” said Maurice, echoing something Jokinen himself said at the end of last season. “He got the opportunity to play last year because he was so smart defensively and we could put him anywhere. He played all three positions up front on three different lines and gave us some really smart hockey, and because of that he got a little bit more ice time, a little more power play time and because of that you start to see the numbers happen.

”He starts with that this year, he’s on the power play unit, playing with Brind’Amour and Walker and getting some points, but I still think there’s more in his game,” Maurice continued. “It’s not necessarily fancier offense. I think he should be able to generate numbers and be a really solid player defensively because he’s smart enough to do it.”

If it sounds like a lot is being asked of Jokinen, it is, but that's only because he's demonstrated that he's capable.  When factoring in his effectiveness at both ends of the ice and his elite skills in the shootout, which he demonstrated Wedneday against Pittsburgh, few players can contribute in as many ways as he.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72