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Gameday: Jokinen, Ruutu, Skinner Reunited

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 12:50 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Gameday: Jokinen, Ruutu, Skinner Reunited

With just a week left until opening night and the roster trimmed down to 24 players, this weekend’s preseason games will be final tune-ups before October 7.

Michael Smith
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Whereas the initial weeks of training camp focused on conditioning and individual assessment, this last week of camp ahead will draw much more attention to delving deep into the Hurricanes’ system and finding the right line combinations.

Throughout training camp, the lines have been rather fluid, as players have moved up and down and in and out of the lineup. Over the next week, head coach Paul Maurice should be assembling a final four trios and a set of duos that fans will see on opening night.

One line that provided an offensive spark last season has been reunited for tonight and perhaps the weeks ahead – the second scoring line of Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu and Jeff Skinner.

“There’s a little bit of a different element in each player,” Maurice said. “Mostly what I like is that I think they enjoy playing with each other, and you can see it. When you have a line that talks to each other on the bench, they get better. They start creating plays that are somewhat off the grid of what you’re doing as an offense. That’s chemistry, and they seem to have it.”

Jokinen is the latest addition to the duo of Ruutu and Skinner, who have been matched with Anthony Stewart on the opposite wing for the majority of camp. Maurice said yesterday that moving Stewart down to accompany the Jokinen addition wasn’t indicative of Stewart’s play; rather, Maurice wants to see that offensive spark that he knows Jokinen can bring to the line.

“All of us three enjoyed the last couple of months,” Jokinen said. “We were able to score a lot of big goals and help our team, but it wasn’t enough. I think we feel confident playing with each other.”

Ruutu, Skinner and Jokinen all were among the top five in scoring for the Canes last season; between the three, they totaled 172 points.

“I feel really comfortable playing with them. In the games we played last year, we were doing good,” Ruutu said. “ Skinner can make good chances out of nothing. Jussi is a great passer, and he can also score. He’s got a great hockey sense.”

“Jussi is such a smart defensive player,” Maurice said. “Ruutu is a bull. And Skinner is a finisher, kind of a creator in tight areas.”

While this line will see plenty of ice time tonight, it might get juggled around tomorrow night. Maurice indicated yesterday that he isn’t entirely comfortable with playing Ruutu in back-to-back games, which would open up a slot for Riley Nash to re-enter the lineup. This move could see Skinner shift back to center and Stewart on the wing for a night.

Regardless, no one plans on changing the way they play their game.

“Chemistry might be a little different because you have different type of players,” Ruutu said. “But at the same time, one guy can get the puck by hitting; the other guy is good with the stick. It doesn’t matter, as long as you do your work.”

Based on who is in the lineup tonight and what we’ve seen in the last few days of camp, here’s a look at the projected lines:

Ponikarovsky – Staal – Dalpe
Skinner – Ruutu – Jokinen
Tlusty – Sutter – LaRose
Dwyer – Brent – Stewart

Pitkanen – Gleason
Kaberle – Harrison
Allen – Faulk

Ward
Boucher

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 52 39 9 4 171 117 82
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
5 NYI 52 28 18 6 145 129 62
6 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 62
7 BOS 53 28 19 6 153 146 62
8 PIT 53 27 19 7 138 135 61
9 NJD 55 27 21 7 122 123 61
10 MTL 55 27 24 4 147 145 58
11 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
12 OTT 55 25 24 6 154 169 56
13 PHI 52 23 20 9 122 137 55
14 BUF 54 21 27 6 124 146 48
15 CBJ 55 21 28 6 137 170 48
16 TOR 52 19 24 9 120 144 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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