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Wild vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Gameday: Jokinen, Ruutu, Skinner Reunited

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 12:50 PM / 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

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 65 41 18 6 175 146 88
2 NYI 66 42 21 3 211 185 87
3 TBL 66 40 20 6 217 173 86
4 NYR 63 39 17 7 197 155 85
5 DET 62 36 15 11 182 160 83
6 PIT 63 36 18 9 182 158 81
7 WSH 66 35 21 10 194 164 80
8 BOS 63 31 22 10 168 165 72
9 FLA 65 28 23 14 159 185 70
10 PHI 65 28 25 12 173 187 68
11 OTT 62 28 23 11 176 167 67
12 NJD 64 27 27 10 144 165 64
13 TOR 65 26 34 5 175 199 57
14 CBJ 63 26 33 4 163 201 56
15 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
16 BUF 64 19 40 5 123 215 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 62 12 28 -18 40
E. Staal 57 18 20 -12 38
E. Lindholm 61 11 16 -18 27
J. Skinner 57 16 10 -17 26
N. Gerbe 58 7 16 -10 23
R. Nash 59 7 15 -10 22
V. Rask 60 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 62 6 13 3 19
J. Staal 26 4 12 -4 16
A. Nestrasil 34 4 11 4 15
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 20 4 .911 2.43
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .905 2.61