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Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Ruutu, Pitkanen Traveling with Canes

Friday, 03.15.2013 / 5:00 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Ruutu, Pitkanen Traveling with Canes
Tuomo Ruutu could be closer to returning to the Hurricanes’ lineup than once originally thought.

Michael Smith
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Head coach Kirk Muller said Friday after practice that Ruutu and defenseman Joni Pitkanen will travel with the team this weekend.

While dressing for the Canes on Saturday against the Lightning isn’t set in stone for either player, a return to the lineup before the team is back in town on Tuesday is not out of the question.

“Once they get off, we’ll check and see how they are. I think they’re close,” Muller said. “That was a good full practice for them with a few battle drills.”

While the ultimate destination for Ruutu in the lineup is likely the second-line wing with Jordan Staal and Jeff Skinner, Muller plans to ease the 30-year-old forward into game action.

“It’s been a lot of time that he’s been off. Getting in this time of year, I think the key is just getting his feet wet … so he feels comfortable, and then assess it after whatever that first game is,” Muller said. “I think it’s a comfort zone for him, too, mentally to go, ‘Hey, I don’t want to jump in on a certain line when the team is going well and everything, and I don’t know if I’m at that level yet.’

“If it’s going good, he’ll play more. If not, it’s OK. It’s step-by-step.”

Ruutu has yet to play in a game this season, as he underwent hip surgery in mid-December. He first practiced with the team on Thursday.

The Canes reassigned forward Chris Terry to Charlotte on Friday morning. If Ruutu is unable to play Saturday, the team still has 12 available forwards, as Kevin Westgarth has been a healthy scratch the last three games.

Pitkanen has missed 13 total games from a lower-body injury. After sitting out seven games, he played just over six minutes against Florida on March 2, re-aggravating his ailment. He has missed the team’s last six games.



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45