Joe Corvo’s long road to recovery is finally nearing an end.
Coach Paul Maurice said that he hopes the defenseman, who has been out since Nov. 30 with a skate-induced leg laceration, will return to the lineup sometime this week. That statement comes eight weeks to the day from Corvo’s initial prognosis of 8-12 weeks.
”We’re bringing him with us [to New York] to skate tomorrow, and I’m hoping this week sometime,” Maurice said. “Joe is not far off.”
While Corvo may not play Wednesday against the Rangers, he seems like a decent bet for Thursday’s home game against the New York Islanders or Saturday’s match-up against Chicago, also at the RBC Center. Either date would give him ample time to see a few games prior to the upcoming Olympic break.
Corvo participated fully in Tuesday’s practice but was not included in the team’s first power-play unit, where he has been a mainstay ever since joining the team back in February of 2008. However, that may have little to do with his health, as Maurice likes what he’s seen from his primary group in recent weeks.
In the Hurricanes’ last five games, the team has scored eight power play goals, converting at an outstanding 38.1 percent clip. Of the seven games in which they have scored multiple power play goals this season, three of those have come in the recent five-game span.
The first-choice group of Jussi Jokinen, Eric Staal and Ray Whitney up front with Matt Cullen and Joni Pitkanen running the point has been particularly effective, having accounted for six of the aforementioned eight goals.“He can see things on the ice that aren’t scripted,” Maurice said of Jokinen, who enjoyed three points on that night and has 12 in his last eight contests. His subsequent goal in that game was just three seconds away from being on the power-play, which would have further inflated the team’s recent totals.
“I think the biggest thing is that we’ve got five guys we’ve run consistently on the power play for a week or two now,” said Maurice. “It’s really evident on the ice, because some of the stuff is by design, but a good power play improvises, takes some of the things it sees and does it quickly. If you’re just running the structures of what the coaches give you with the breakouts and the routes, your power play really never gets going.”
A good example of that was Jokinen’s behind-the-back pass to Staal for a goal in Sunday’s win over Boston, which likely isn’t something the coaching staff had drawn up.
The Canes’ power-play depth will be bolstered even more by Corvo’s imminent return. Although they aren’t quite as close to coming back and will not make the trip to
New York, Erik Cole and Tuomo Ruutu will also factor into that mix when healthy. Cole has been practicing in a non-contact jersey, while Ruutu and Scott Walker took the ice after the team’s session at the RecZone Tuesday.
On an unrelated note, we hope you find the new Twitter widgets on the site (like the one used on this particular blog entry) useful. There's also one on the homepage if you scroll down a little bit. As we've stressed before, it's really the fastest way to find out what's going on with the team, so be sure to check that out if you aren't on Twitter already.