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Ruutu, Pitkanen Traveling with Canes

Friday, 03.15.2013 / 5:00 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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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SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

[SSS_STANDINGS.METROPOLITAN_DIVISION_LABEL]
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
2 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
3 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
4 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
5 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
6 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
7 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
8 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 79 21 40 -13 61
J. Skinner 71 33 21 -14 54
A. Sekera 74 11 33 4 44
A. Semin 65 22 20 1 42
J. Staal 82 15 25 2 40
J. Faulk 76 5 27 -9 32
N. Gerbe 81 16 15 -6 31
J. Tlusty 68 16 14 2 30
R. Nash 73 10 14 0 24
P. Dwyer 75 8 14 -2 22
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 19 14 1 .926 2.30
C. Ward 10 12 6 .898 3.06
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