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Pitkanen Ready to Excel This Season

Friday, 09.23.2005 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Pitkanen Ready to Excel This Season


Voorhees, NJ – After coming to the United States for the first time as a rookie in the 2003-04 season, Flyers defenseman Joni Pitkanen finally feels at home here in Philadelphia.

"It is very difficult to come from Europe and play in [the NHL]," said Pitkanen, who's English has improved dramatically since he first joined the team. "It's real tough. But it's not just about game - getting used to the language, living over here. But things are better for me now. My language is better and I'm more used to living here now.

Pitkanen is also feeling more comfortable on the ice, especially after spending the entire 2004-05 season with the Philadelphia Phantoms, helping them to the Calder Cup. In 76 regular season games with the Flyers' AHL affiliate, Pitkanen scored six goals and added 35 assists for 41 points.

Looking closer at his numbers from last season, however, reveals a more surprising statistic. While it is apparent that Pitkanen is skilled with the puck and can generate excellent offensive numbers, he also logged 105 penalty minutes. Compared with 44 penalty minutes in the NHL in 71 games with the Flyers the previous year, that number represents a dramatic increase for the 6-3, now 215-pound blueliner.

Pitkanen is quick to admit that his year in the minor leagues helped him adjust to the North American playing style.

"It was very good. They were a very good team and I won my first career hockey championship with them," he said. I learned a lot of things throughout the entire year -100 games. The more games you play, the better you get defensively. It really helped me a lot.

Flyers Head Coach Ken Hitchcock has paired Pitkanen with Mike Rathje, one of the players the Flyers signed this summer. Rathje's intimidating size and physical presence will hopefully open up space for Pitkanen to dazzle with his skates, and take more offensive chances.

"He's fast and he covers all of the defensive zones," said Pitkanen of his new partner. That really helps me to play up (offensively) more. He passes the puck very good, also.

As far as what he has to do to have success, Pitkanen keeps it short and simple.

"Trust the skills that I have - playing hard, passing, shooting. I have to trust my own game.

Lineup Set for Saturday
Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock has decided on his lines for the Saturday's preseason contest at the Wachovia Center against the Washington Capitals. The forward lines will be Brian Savage, Keith Primeau and Turner Stevenson; Simon Gagne, Jeff Carter and Patrick Sharp; Mike Knuble, Mike Richards and Jon Sim; and Josh Gratton, Michal Handzus and Branko Radivojevic.

On defense, Pitkanen and Rathje will be a pair, as will Dennis Seidenberg and Eric Desjardins, and Randy Jones and Kim Johnsson. Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki will be the goaltenders.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 82 22 59 1 81
C. Giroux 81 25 48 -3 73
M. Streit 81 9 43 -8 52
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
B. Schenn 82 18 29 -5 47
S. Couturier 82 15 22 4 37
M. Del Zotto 64 10 22 -5 32
M. Read 80 8 22 -4 30
M. Raffl 67 21 7 6 28
V. Lecavalier 57 8 12 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 18 18 11 .928 2.25
R. Emery 10 11 7 .894 3.06
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