The Hurricanes are expected to make a defensive recall from Charlotte on Wednesday evening, as Joni Pitkanen
is doubtful to play Thursday night in Philadelphia.
The Finnish defenseman was injured near the beginning of the third period of Tuesday’s overtime loss in New Jersey when a shot by the Devils’ Anssi Salmela appeared to strike him in the leg. After limping to the dressing room, Pitkanen would return about five minutes later to try a few more shifts, but left the game for good with around 10 minutes remaining in regulation.
General Manager Jim Rutherford said that the injury to Pitkanen is not serious, although it will likely cause him to miss some time.
“I don’t believe he will play tomorrow’s game but would probably be ready to play the weekend,” said Rutherford.
Following the match-up with Philadelphia, the Hurricanes close out their four-game road trip with games against Tampa Bay on Saturday and Atlanta on Sunday. They could have Pitkanen for those, making his absence shorter than the five-game hiatus he took after suffering an upper-body injury in Toronto on Jan. 28.
Since the Canes are carrying just six defensemen on the current trip, one more should be joining them from the AHL Checkers. While Rutherford said that he has not yet made a decision on which player he’ll recall, Brett Carson and Bryan Rodney have each spent time with the Hurricanes in similar situations this season, playing seven and three games, respectively.
Update: Brett Carson recalled
As an offensive-minded player capable of contributing on the power play, Rodney most closely resembles Pitkanen’s skill set, although Carson, the more reliable defender, scored a goal in Charlotte’s 4-1 win over Providence on Tuesday. Position could also be a factor, with Rodney more comfortable on Pitkanen’s preferred left side, while Carson, his partner in Charlotte, prefers the right.
The Hurricanes are fortunate in that they do not have to replace Zach Boychuk as well. The winger took an elbow to the head against the Devils that resulted in defenseman Anton Volchenkov receiving a three-game suspension as the guilty party. Boychuk headed to the locker room for tests but returned to the ice, with his newly-created Twitter account a good indication that he’s feeling like himself.
Without commenting directly on the length of Volchenkov’s ban, Rutherford said that he was satisfied with the ruling.
“It’s not for me to analyze what the league does on suspensions - they do a good job with them,” he said. “Clearly this was a pretty good shot to the head, and I’m surprised Zach came back in that game because he got hit pretty hard. I was not surprised that there was a suspension.”