Jokinen could return to Penguins lineup in Game 4


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OTTAWA -- If there's a silver lining to be found from the time Jussi Jokinen has spent scratched from the Penguins lineup, he figures the view from above might have provided insight into his opponent's tendencies in the faceoff circle.

"Watching [from] up top you're going to see tendencies what their centers like to do," said Jokinen.

But that's pretty much it.

Make no mistake, Jokinen is ready to play.

He skated as the fourth line center and on the second power-play unit at practice Tuesday afternoon at Scotiabank Place, indicating he's a decent bet to be in the lineup Wednesday night for Game 4.

"If I play, I'm ready to go for sure," said Jokinen, who said he is healthy. "It's not easy to watch from up top, especially this time of year. It's not an easy feeling, there's nothing you can do there. Whenever I get the chance I'm ready to go for sure."

He centered for Craig Adams and Tanner Glass on line rushes and played with Paul Martin, Jarome Iginla, Tyler Kennedy and Pascal Dupuis on the second power-play unit.

Whether he will crack the Game 4 lineup is another matter.

Coach Dan Bylsma does not confirm such things in the playoffs, but did say on the team's day off Monday that Jokinen offers an intriguing option to help on faceoffs.

"The left faceoff dot is something we haven't been good at in this series," said Bylsma. "Jussi has obviously been outstanding on faceoffs especially on the left side and you know he's a guy who has played big games.

"He's done real good things for us in the games he's played. It's tough not having him in there with our lineup. We haven't decided on our lineup for Game 4 yet."

Both Martin and defenseman Matt Niskanen spoke highly of the veteran, not only his faceoff skills, but also how responsible he is on both ends of the ice.

"He's a veteran and been around for a while," said Martin. "He's got a great skill set, is smart with the puck, has a good shot and is great on faceoffs. You know what you're going to get.

"If he's in, it'll be good."

Said Niskanen: "He's a really responsible two-way forward. He's in the right position a lot of times on the defensive side of the puck. He's got a good skill set where he can make plays and knows how to finish around the net. He's a good all-around player.

"I'm sure he's got fresh legs and is anxious to get into the lineup. If and when that happens, he'll be ready."

Jokinen has been scratched for the past five playoff games, not seeing action since Game 4 of the Islanders series.

When asked if he was having any health problems, he said no, adding that he is healthy and ready to go.

The Penguins got a lift in their opening-round series against the New York Islanders when Tyler Kennedy and Joe Vitale, who had been healthy scratches, entered the lineup. Could Jokinen have a similar effect?

"Yeah, for sure. You're obviously coming in fresh and you're ready to rock," said Kennedy. "He's a great player, tremendous skill set. If he's in, we're excited to have him."

Jokinen, acquired from Carolina at the trade deadline, is noted for being good at faceoffs and went 24-13 on draws in the first four playoff games.

"He's good. He's been really good for us," said Adams. "I never realized before he came here, how good of a faceoff guy he was. Most of the games he's been here, he's been lights out."

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Jenn Menendez: jmenendez@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. First Published May 22, 2013 4:00 AM


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