RALEIGH, N.C. -- Forward Jussi Jokinen has averaged only 13:43 of ice time in the playoffs, but as Carolina coach Paul Maurice searches for offense in this series against the Boston Bruins, that number got a boost in Game 2.
The reason is simple: Jokinen is hot.
In the last six games, Jokinen has four goals, compared with only seven in 71 regular season games. Those playoff goals also have served as some of the biggest in the playoffs for Carolina. In the first round, Jokinen recorded the game-winning goal with 0.2 seconds left in regulation to shock New Jersey in Game 4 and he also scored with 80 seconds left in regulation to tie Game 7.
On Sunday, Jokinen received 19:36 of ice time, much of which came at the expense of veteran Rod Brind'Amour, who saw his 21:12 in Game 1 shrink to 11:15 in Game 2. Earlier in the week Maurice explained that Brind'Amour's decreased ice time in that game was a function of how well the 26-year-old Finn was playing.
Jokinen attributes it to the excitement of playing in the second round of the playoffs for the first time. Perhaps Jokinen is one of those who saves his best for crunch time, evidenced by his dazzling performance in shootouts in the tie-breaking session's inaugural season (he led the league in 2005-06 by making 10 of 13 chances).
"Everyone wants to play their best in the postseason," he said. "... It's the best time to be a hockey player."
Being traded from the league's second worst team, Tampa Bay, near the trading deadline couldn't have hurt either. Jokinen said he has regained his confidence.
"All the people who wanted me there, they were all gone," Jokinen said of his acquisition by Tampa Bay from Dallas and the subsequent ownership and other changes last summer. "Then there are new people and they want to bring their own people there and I was the guy who was brought there by the owner before and the GM before, so I think that was one of the big reasons."
Scoring from the back -- During the regular season the Hurricanes got a sizable 45 goals from their defense corps, mostly from Joe Corvo (14) and Anton Babchuk (16). So far in the playoffs, that defense corps only has two in nine games.
Corvo and Tim Gleason make up the Canes' top defense pair, which means that at 5-on-5 they will match up against Boston's top line and will have to think more about defense than offense. Add in the fact that the Bruins don't take many penalties and that could make it even tougher for Carolina's defense to pitch in scoring-wise.
"All you can say is that when you do get a chance [on the power play] you have to stay focused and sharp to make sure you get
shots on goal," Corvo said.