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Tracking the Storm

Ruutu, Pitkanen Traveling with Canes

Friday, 03.15.2013 / 5:00 PM ET / 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 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 71 22 28 -12 50
J. Faulk 76 15 32 -19 47
E. Lindholm 75 16 21 -20 37
J. Skinner 71 18 13 -22 31
V. Rask 74 11 20 -13 31
N. Gerbe 72 9 17 -13 26
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. McClement 76 7 13 -5 20
J. Staal 40 4 16 -6 20
J. Liles 51 2 17 -8 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 22 5 .909 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60