Credit Carolina GM Jim Rutherford for doing what’s best for his team again this year in acquiring right winger Jussi Jokinen from Tampa for spare parts Wade Brookbank and Josef Melichar. I feel this is one of those savvy moves that Rutherford can be counted on pretty consistently for.
Last year, he fleeced the Ottawa Senators, picking up Joe Corvo (who leads the Canes’ defense in scoring this season) and Patrick Eaves in exchange for pending unrestricted free agents Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore, neither of whom stuck around Bytown past July 1.
For Carolina’s 2006 Cup run, Rutherford brought in a couple guys who had been there before in Mark Recchi and Doug Weight. That year obviously had a happy ending.
Now granted, Jokinen had a checkered run with the Bolts this season, even going through waivers a couple times, but placed on a team with playoff aspirations – the Canes currently sit precipitously in eighth in the Eastern Conference – the young Finn can have a very specific positive impact.
As has been lore since the end of the lockout, Jussi Jokinen is dynamite in the shootout.
While playing for Dallas, Jokinen was nearly unstoppable in the tiebreaker. With the Bolts this year, Jokinen’s percentage hasn’t been as good, but look at Tampa’s proficiency in the shootout and you can’t blame the guy: In two shootout wins, Jokinen scored both times. In seven losses, he only scored once, but only one other goal was scored in those seven games. That’s right – Vinny Lecavalier scored once in those shootouts and no other Bolt tallied.
Carolina is 2-3 in the shootout right now. As the race for the final spot in the East really gets serious, expect to see more shootouts as every point becomes paramount and games get tighter. Two teams the Canes are battling in the standings are Florida and Pittsburgh. Carolina plays the Cats two more times this year and the Penguins three times. Having a proven clutch performer in Jokinen at their disposal, the Canes can strut a little more confidently into the extra frame.
Since Rutherford’s squad missed the playoffs by the thinnest of margins last season, it wouldn’t surprise me if one or two shootout wins, delivered in part by Jokinen, propel the Canes into the post-season.
NO GLOVE, NO LOVE
There have been some pretty amazing performances by unheralded goaltenders lately – Mike McKenna shutting out the Isles 1-0 for Tampa, Dan Lacosta beating the Western Conference-leading Sharks in his first start of the season for Columbus, Jon Quick doing big things for the Kings – but what about last year’s golden boy?
In Montreal, Carey Price’s glove hand is becoming a millstone to the Habs’ season. If it’s obvious to the public, imagine how a rival team will map their game plan around that little nugget of information.
On Saturday night, the Leafs victimized Price’s mitt on several occasions, harkening back to Montreal’s demise in the 2008 playoffs to Philadelphia. In that Flyers series, there were whispers Price had a nagging injury, hence the slow glove hand, but what’s the excuse now? If there is one, it’s kind of irrelevant, anyway, since opponents aren’t going to shy away from shooting to the youngster’s left side for any reason.
If the Habs want a shot at glory this summer, they can’t exactly just set Mike Komisarek up on the left side of the net and hope he blocks most of the shots coming in on Price; this is something that needs to be solved quick.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his column – The Straight Edge – every Friday, and his features, The Hot List and Prep Watch appears Tuesdays and Thursdays.
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