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Tracking the Storm

Jokinen Performing Playoff Encore

Thursday, 10.15.2009 / 11:49 AM / 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.

Paul Branecky
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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 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 49 28 13 8 145 125 64
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 49 18 22 9 110 137 45
15 CAR 48 17 25 6 104 125 40
16 BUF 50 14 33 3 94 179 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 43 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 48 10 19 -13 29
E. Lindholm 48 9 11 -12 20
R. Nash 48 7 13 -4 20
J. Tlusty 41 12 7 -12 19
J. Skinner 43 10 9 -8 19
N. Gerbe 44 5 13 -4 18
V. Rask 48 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 46 1 14 -6 15
J. McClement 48 1 9 -2 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 11 17 4 .914 2.37
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .914 2.41