After leaving around halfway through Tuesday’s win over Tampa Bay, Joni Pitkanen
did not return to practice on Thursday with the Canes, even after an off day on Wednesday.
Coach Paul Maurice had said after that game that Pitkanen left because his surgically repaired knee become “cold” while sitting on the bench as the Canes killed off a slew of Lightning power plays.
”We wanted to keep him off the ice for a few days just to let everything settle down,” said Coach Paul Maurice after Thursday's practice. “We’ll wait to see how he feels when he comes in tomorrow.”
While Pitkanen is a possibility to play both tomorrow at home against Florida and at Tampa Bay the following night, that isn’t a sure thing at this point. Maurice said he would again consider dressing seven defenseman as a precautionary measure, with Jay Harrison the extra man. Harrison was paired with Andrew Alberts at Thursday's practice, while Aaron Ward skated with Niclas Wallin.
“If he got through (Friday) and felt good and felt strong, that would control our other five defensemen’s minutes and I wouldn’t be as worried the next night,” said Maurice of Pitkanen. “If he comes out and you have to run the other five harder, then you may have to look at seven the next night.”
Pitkanen made a big impact in just 9:37 of ice time in his only game of the season, setting up a breakaway Jussi Jokinen for the Canes' only goal of the 2-1 shootout victory. The team has just three goals in three games, a pace that ties them for the lowest output in the league.
"I don't think we've been as agressive as we need to be on offense, not in terms of taking chances but with what we're doing with the puck" said Maurice. "We just seem to get it and then slow down, and our game is to get it and speed up, create confusion and create some open lanes. We haven't done that yet."