Can Canes afford Pitkanen?

ou take the good with the bad with Joni Pitkanen. His talent tantalizes, which is why he was drafted fourth overall and has been traded for significant returns twice since. His inconsistency also frustrates, which is why he has been traded twice since.

Given the Carolina Hurricanes’ financial situation, along with their sudden surfeit of defensemen, it’s fair to wonder whether Pitkanen is a luxury the Hurricanes cannot afford.

He showed Wednesday, in a win over the defending Stanley Cup champions, just what he has to offer when he’s at his best. Pitkanen’s opening goal – along with a 5-for-5 performance on the penalty kill — helped the Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins, not only their first of the season but a sorely needed one at that.

It was a scoreless game in the second period when Pitkanen got the puck at the right circle with the Hurricanes on the power play. There wasn’t much movement in front of him, with Eric Staal set up on the doorstep, and Pitkanen played with the puck waiting for an opening.

The Bruins never pressured him, and he picked his spot – whistling a shot through Staal’s screen and past Tim Thomas.

Fans can have short memories, and it wasn’t much later that Pitkanen had the puck on the other side of the ice on another power play, doing pretty much the same wait-and-see maneuver, and the fans were just as irritated, with no goal to soothe them.

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