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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 WSH 53 40 9 4 175 120 84
2 FLA 54 32 16 6 150 122 70
3 NYR 54 31 18 5 153 135 67
4 NYI 53 29 18 6 150 131 64
5 DET 54 28 18 8 136 132 64
6 BOS 54 29 19 6 159 148 64
7 TBL 53 29 20 4 140 127 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 PHI 53 24 20 9 127 138 57
12 CAR 54 24 21 9 130 142 57
13 OTT 56 25 25 6 157 173 56
14 CBJ 56 22 28 6 140 173 50
15 BUF 55 21 28 6 125 151 48
16 TOR 53 19 25 9 122 149 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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