’s most recent lower-body injury does not appear to be serious, but it will be enough to keep him out for a week or two, starting with Thursday’s contest in Toronto.
Following Wednesday’s practice, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said that Jokinen would not accompany the team as it departs for Canada. Jokinen left Tuesday’s game against Boston in the first period and did not return, although he apparently wanted to play in the third period, and would undergo tests to determine severity.
Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford later said that he expects Jokinen to miss 1-2 weeks as a result of those tests. The team believes that this latest setback is related to the one that kept the Finnish forward out for six games in late December and early January.
“I think it’s a re-occurrence of his old injury, and I don’t think he’s coming to Toronto with us,” said Maurice.
Both injuries came at unfortunate times for Jokinen, who has been playing his best hockey of the season since mid-December. Since coming back from his first absence on Jan. 11, he scored 12 points in 12 games, including two 3-point nights and an NHL First Star of the Week award. For the season, his points-per-game average (0.84) is the highest of his career.
The Canes may be able to take some comfort in the fact that they fared well without him last time, posting a 5-0-2 record. One of those who played well in his absence then, Zach Boychuk, will get another opportunity now as he was recalled from the American Hockey League’s Charlotte Checkers on Wednesday morning. Boychuk scored 2 points (1g, 1a) in two NHL games last week to go along with a +4 plus/minus rating.
Although they missed practice on Wednesday, Eric Staal and Tim Gleason should be available to face Toronto. Staal was given the day off after his whirlwind weekend as a captain and host player for the NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, in addition to his responsibilities with his club team.
“I marveled at the job he did,” said Maurice of Staal. “I thought he was just a fantastic ambassador of the game and for our city. He also played 24 minutes last night and didn’t need to be on that ice (at practice).”
Gleason missed practice for personal reasons, but is expected to join the team in Toronto either Wednesday night or Thursday morning. Given the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 24 that featured a game misconduct penalty for Gleason’s punch on the Maple Leafs’ Nikolai Kulemin, he may get an interesting reception from the home crowd. The players may not be too happy with him either, with Clarke MacArthur leaving that game “disgusted” with Gleason and feeling as though he was “not that smart.”
As far as the Hurricanes are concerned, they’ll just be hoping to maintain their excellent 13-3-1 record against the 10 teams behind them in the overall standings as of Tuesday’s games.
“I hope I’m not jinxing things, but when you split our record, I’m far more concerned about our ability to beat the high-end teams,” said Maurice. “We’ve mentally prepared very well for the teams below us in the standings and played well.”