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Blues vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Canes Make it to Helsinki

Tuesday, 10.05.2010 / 10:35 AM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Canes Make it to Helsinki
The Canes are finally in Helsinki, the site of their first two regular-season games against the Minnesota Wild.

Paul Branecky
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Things are much more relaxed in Finland thus far. Since we weren’t in St. Petersburg for very long, it was one stop after another until after the game against SKA. Finland is a very different place – it’s much more modern and definitely sunnier.
Click here for a photo gallery from the first day in Helsinki

Since we arrived at approximately 1 a.m. local time on Tuesday, we haven’t seen much of the city except for the drive from our hotel to the Hartwall Areena for the Hurricanes’ first practice.   The arena is slightly larger than the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg – the capacity is listed at 13,349 for hockey – and is a much newer facility, having opened for the 1997 World Championship.

Hartwall Arena is hope to the Jokerit club team, which Tuomo Ruutu played for prior to his coming to North America. It seems obvious now, but I was surprised to learn that Jokerit translates to “The Jokers” in English. It wasn’t until I saw the logo hanging from the rafters that I made that connection – I had always assumed that it was named for a specific area or suburb of Helsinki, as is often the case in European soccer. 

The team wears that logo on their jerseys, which I thought seemed strange for a sport like hockey, but maybe it’s just me.

“I never thought it was weird,” said Ruutu, shrugging his shoulders.

While Ruutu is one of three Finns on the Hurricanes’ roster, he’s the only local boy. Jussi Jokinen and Joni Pitkanen hail from the far north of the country. Ruutu lives only a few minutes away from the arena.

“It’s weird being here with the team,” said Ruutu. “I never imagined I would be playing NHL hockey here.”

The Finnish media had several representatives on hand to interview the players, culminating in a more formal press conference after practice. They even had questions for coach Paul Maurice about Finnish prospects in the organization but not currently with the team, such as Oskar Osala.

One recurring topic centered on Jokinen’s ability to top last season’s 30-goal campaign.

“I think he’s capable of scoring 40, but he’s also capable of having a great season and only scoring 20 because of all the other things he does for us,” said Maurice.

The coach also had praise for Pitkanen’s ability to log huge minutes and Ruutu’s physical presence, which often sets the tone for the entire team.

“When he’s out hitting guys, everyone else picks up on that and does it too,” said Maurice of Ruutu. “Whenever we lose him to injury, we really suffer.”

The Wild have been in Helsinki since before the Hurricanes even departed for St. Petersburg. They also played an exhibition against a European club team, but made the approximately two-hour bus ride to Tampere rather than set up in a different country, winning 5-1 against what I’ve heard was a very young team. Minnesota cancelled their Tuesday practice, but should be on the ice at Hartwall tomorrow.

Although the Canes made it through the SKA game relatively unscathed given the circumtances, a notable exception could be defenseman Joe Corvo, who left the game in the second period and left Tuesday’s practice after the first few minutes due to a lower-body injury.

Maurice said that Corvo would likely be available to play on Thursday, but the drastic change in routine is enough to cast a little doubt. We’ll keep an eye on him tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Drayson Bowman practiced fully on Tuesday and should still be available for the first Minnesota game. That would probably keep Jiri Tlusty out of the lineup, as the Czech forward received the usual post-practice bag skate for scratched players.

The Hurricanes’ coaching staff will also have to make decisions on their defensemen, as they will have to scratch one or two players, depending on Corvo’s health. They currently have eight with them, with Brett Carson and Bobby Sanguinetti usually making up the fourth pairing at recent practices.

“They’ve all made a case (to play),” said Maurice. “I hope we have to deal with this problem all year.”

I hope to have more sightseeing-type photos in my next update, which will likely come after practice tomorrow.


SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 NYI 47 32 14 1 155 130 65
2 DET 48 28 11 9 144 123 65
3 TBL 49 30 15 4 158 131 64
4 MTL 46 30 13 3 126 108 63
5 PIT 47 27 12 8 143 120 62
6 NYR 45 27 14 4 135 110 58
7 WSH 47 24 14 9 140 124 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 45 20 15 10 111 127 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 49 20 22 7 134 149 47
13 CBJ 46 21 22 3 117 145 45
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 42 16 14 -6 30
J. Faulk 47 9 19 -13 28
E. Lindholm 47 9 11 -11 20
J. Tlusty 40 12 7 -11 19
J. Skinner 42 10 9 -7 19
R. Nash 47 7 12 -4 19
N. Gerbe 43 5 13 -3 18
V. Rask 47 6 9 -10 15
A. Sekera 45 1 14 -6 15
C. Terry 34 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 6 8 2 .918 2.30
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45