Penguins Notebook: Having an impact is the Ruutus' way

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Carolina forward Tuomo Ruutu left Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final between the Penguins and Hurricanes at Mellon Arena last night with an unspecified leg injury he got in the first period.

If the injury isn't severe -- there was no immediate word on that -- there's a good chance Ruutu will have an impact on how the series plays out, although it won't necessarily be the same kind his brother, Jarkko, would.

In two seasons with the Penguins, Jarkko Ruutu reaffirmed his reputation as one of the game's premier antagonists, a guy who would do almost anything to get opponents off their games. And who sometimes went about his work as if he thought the rulebook was best suited for propping up a chair with a broken leg.

His younger brother doesn't make many friends among opposing players, either, but usually not for the same reasons.

"They have different approaches," Penguins left winger Matt Cooke said.

"Tuomo is a guy who's going to go out there and play hard, play physical, and Jarkko is a guy who's going to go out there and yap a lot and try to get under guys' skin after the whistle. It's just a different way."

Tuomo Ruutu entered Game 1 with 53 hits, fourth-highest total of any player in these playoffs. That's part of the reason playing against him usually isn't a pleasant experience, even if he's not the most grating member of the family.

"[Jarkko] was more of an agitator," Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "Tuomo is ... I don't know, it's pretty close. They're both a pain in the rear."

Planning ahead

Not surprisingly, preparation for a playoff series is far more complicated and time-consuming than it is for an individual game in the regular season.

The Penguins not only have had their pro scouts on the road studying prospective opponents, but also video coach Travis Ramsay, assistants Mike Yeo and Tom Fitzgerald and goalie coach GillesMeloche spent considerable time in the days leading up to Game 1 breaking down tapes of the Hurricanes.

"[The pro scouts] put together a game plan [independently], so that they don't hear what I say, they don't hear what the assistant coaches say," coach Dan Bylsma said. "They put their own game plan together and then we kind of compare notes on what we should do.

"All [of the assistants] spend time in their areas of the game, putting together clip after clip after clip and then we kind of sit together and narrow down what we think our focus should be.

"It doesn't make for less work. It actually probably gives you the opportunity to do more work. Lots of preparation, and we've had lots of days to stew over it."

Ward a challenge

Carolina goalie Cam Ward entered the series with an all-time record of 9-3, plus one shootout loss, against the Penguins, and with the third-best goals against average (2.22) and fourth-best save percentage (.927) in the league this spring.

The Penguins clearly recognize the challenge he presents, and Bylsma is particularly impressed by the efficiency with which Ward goes about his work.

"When you watch him play, he's steady, he's in control," he said.

"There's not a ton of miraculous saves, because he doesn't have to make them.

"He seems to be square on every shot. He seems to be a solid wall, when the shooters are looking at him. When you have a goaltender like that, he adds calmness to your team."

Center Sidney Crosby echoed that assessment.

"[Ward is] steady," he said. "He doesn't allow a weak one. Those goals really hurt a team. He's made the saves he's supposed to make and has given his team a chance in every game."

Nonetheless, Crosby said the Penguins shouldn't deviate from the approach -- getting pucks and bodies to the net as often as possible -- that served them well during the first two rounds.

"We've played against hot goalies this year, and things don't change when you're playing against a different guy," he said. "You have to do the same things in order to be successful. We've tested a lot of goalies."



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