Scott Cullen over at TSN.com has an interesting article up about which players in the NHL are missed the most when they are out of the lineup. Remember the last couple of games when Joni Pitkanen was injured and couldn't play for the Canes? It seemed like the team had more trouble than usual getting the puck out of their own end.
When the big defenseman first arrived in North Carolina, he came with a bit of a reputation, and not all of it was good. He has had a couple of injuries to work through this season and it has taken him a little while to fit in, but the Finn has been very solid in his own end for the past couple of months or so and has contributed on offense as expected. At the moment, he has the third best plus/minus stat on the team, (+10).
Scott Cullen's numbers also seem to confirm his value to the club.
The Hurricanes had a record of 6-5 (.545) when Pitkanen was hurt and could not play, but they have a record of 35-23-7 (.592) with him in the lineup. Considering that he averages more TOI than any of the other Canes, perhaps that is not surprising. But it might shock some Edmonton and Philadelphia fans, who could not wait for him to leave town.
And then there was this Edmonton journalist, who claimed that a team could not win the Cup with the youngster. Keep in mind, the Finn did win the Calder Cup while with the Philadelphia Phantoms. Of course that's not the Stanley Cup, but it is a championship, so the concept of winning is not foreign to him.
We will see if the smooth skating blueliner can continue to bring it every night.
Dennis Seidenberg was also mentioned in the article along with Scott Walker. Seidenberg's numbers were 6-4-2, (.582) when he's out, and 35-24-5 (.586) when he's in. Walker's were much worse, but he has been out a lot this season.