Tracking the Storm

Pitkanen to Receive Further Evaluation, Could Miss Beginning of Season

Tuesday, 09.3.2013 / 4:00 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Pitkanen to Receive Further Evaluation, Could Miss Beginning of Season
What was once thought to be a promising recovery took a turn in the opposite direction.

Michael Smith
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Defenseman Joni Pitkanen will travel to Raleigh to undergo a CT scan on Thursday and might not be ready for the beginning of the regular season, according to Carolina Hurricanes President and General Manager Jim Rutherford.

Pitkanen suffered a broken left calcaneus (heel) bone after crashing into the boards during the second period of an April 2 match against the Washington Capitals. He was originally projected to miss 10-12 weeks, healthy in time for the team’s upcoming training camp. That changed a week ago when Rutherford received news from Pitkanen’s agent.

“He was having trouble standing on [his heel],” Rutherford said. “We’re pretty sure he’s not starting the season. It’s a real serious injury, and this could go a long time.

“I’m getting prepared for the worst at this point.”

Pitkanen’s absence, length undetermined, leaves a hole in the Hurricanes’ defense. The 29-year-old blue-liner has averaged over 22 minutes of ice time per game since the 2005-06 season and was penciled into Carolina’s 2013-14 roster as a top-four defenseman.

“When you take a guy out of the lineup that played that many minutes, you really have to look at your defense,” Rutherford said. “What Kirk [Muller] might have to do is balance [the minutes] out more, which I do think we have a better chance of doing with the addition of [Andrej] Sekera and [Mike] Komisarek.”

The forthcoming updated prognosis could have an effect on how the Hurricanes plan to replace Pitkanen in the lineup, Rutherford said. The Finnish defenseman’s absence opens the door for a Ryan Murphy, who is entering his first full professional season, or a Brett Bellemore to make the team out of training camp. Given the right fit and a salary cap-friendly contract, the Canes could also opt to look outside of the organization.

“We don’t know how long it’s going to be that he’s going to be out. Is he going to be out a couple of weeks? A month? Half a year? A whole year? I don’t know,” Rutherford said. “So until we get a better idea of how long he’s out, we’re going to try to replace him with what we have.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72