Carolina Hurricanes fans have mixed emotions about their Finnish defenseman Joni Pitkanen. Sometimes Pitkanen looks like one of the league’s best offensive defenseman, but at other times, he simply looks lost. Pitkanen has the skills to be an elite defenseman with brilliant passing skills, a great shot and blinding speed. With a solid start to the short season, will this be his comeback year?
Pitkanen had an unfortunate year last year, only playing in 30 games due to injury. He did put up 17 points, but had a minus-15 rating. Many questioned his ability to play in his own zone. After seeing what he could do, everyone is frustrated that there is not more consistency in his play.
This season, Pitkanen has looked to have really picked up his game. He currently leads the defense in points with four in seven games. Fans have been pleasantly surprised with his defensive play and coach Kirk Muller has relied on him more on the penalty kill.
After having a horrible plus-minus season last year, Pitkanen is currently tied for second on the Canes this year with a +7. He scored his first goal of the season in the Hurricanes last game against the Philadelphia Flyers. After receiving a slick pass by Captain Eric Staal, Pitkanen roofed a sick wrist shot. He was one of the best players in the Hurricanes’ disappointing loss.
If the Hurricanes want to make the playoffs this season, Pitkanen has to dig deep and play the way he is capable of every night.