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Pitkanen Ready to Excel This Season

Friday, 09.23.2005 / 12:00 AM / News
Philadelphia Flyers
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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 TBL 50 31 15 4 163 132 66
2 MTL 47 31 13 3 127 108 65
3 NYI 48 32 15 1 157 135 65
4 DET 49 28 12 9 145 128 65
5 PIT 48 27 13 8 143 124 62
6 WSH 48 25 14 9 144 124 59
7 BOS 49 26 16 7 131 123 59
8 NYR 46 27 15 4 135 111 58
9 FLA 46 21 15 10 114 129 52
10 PHI 50 21 22 7 139 151 49
11 TOR 50 22 24 4 144 155 48
12 OTT 47 19 19 9 129 134 47
13 CBJ 47 21 23 3 119 148 45
14 NJD 48 18 22 8 109 135 44
15 CAR 47 17 25 5 102 122 39
16 BUF 48 14 31 3 90 171 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 50 17 41 11 58
C. Giroux 49 16 36 7 52
M. Streit 50 7 28 0 35
W. Simmonds 50 18 13 -4 31
B. Schenn 50 11 20 -2 31
S. Couturier 50 11 12 0 23
M. Read 50 3 15 -8 18
M. Del Zotto 38 4 12 -6 16
M. Raffl 40 12 3 6 15
V. Lecavalier 36 7 7 -9 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 10 12 6 .922 2.40
R. Emery 8 9 1 .887 3.38
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