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Pitkanen Ready to Excel This Season

Friday, 09.23.2005 / 12:00 AM ET / 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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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