Ruutu says 'let them come'

 

There's no truth to the rumour that "Jarkko Ruutu," translated from his native Finnish, means, "I hate his guts."

 
 
 
 
 

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There's no truth to the rumour that "Jarkko Ruutu," translated from his native Finnish, means, "I hate his guts."

It is, however, how the players on 29 NHL teams -- every player on every team, except for the one he's playing for -- might respond in a game of word association. There would also be some other choice words, inappropriate for a family newspaper, thrown in for good measure.

Ruutu wouldn't have it any other way.

"I love it, it makes it even more fun," Ruutu said yesterday when asked about being a target for the Ottawa Senators' next two opponents at Scotiabank Place -- the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night and the New York Rangers on Saturday afternoon. "It's nothing new. Every game is like that for me. That hasn't changed me at all. I love those kinds of games where people think there are more things going on than there actually is, but I love the emotional games. I'm happy if they're trying to come after me. That's how I play my best."

It has been quite the wild stretch, even by Ruutu's standards. The Senators' agitator, who normally plays on the club's third or fourth lines, has two goals and three assists in 16 games, and is averaging 13 minutes 13 seconds of ice time per game. And he typically makes every second count, one way or another.

A week ago Monday, with the Senators at the start of their current tailspin, Ruutu took matters into his own hands (or elbows) during the Senators' 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens, elbowing Maxim Lapierre early in the third period. Later in the period, he fought and received a 10-minute misconduct, with the Bell Centre crowd letting him know exactly how it felt about him as he left the ice. Ruutu played along, smiling and waving back as he departed.

The following day, Ruutu was suspended two games for the elbow, missing the Senators' back-to-back losses to the New York Islanders, but he vowed that the suspension wouldn't change his style.

True to his word, he was back in the middle of things when he returned for the Senators' 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Rangers on Monday, delivering and receiving his share of trash talk, hits and face washes after the whistle.

The game finished with several Rangers anxious to go after Ruutu -- he says a player swung his stick at him -- following a controversial play during the shootout. Ruutu attempted a deke on his opportunity, but lost control of the puck in front of Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. The puck slipped harmlessly to the side, toward the goal line. Technically, the play was still live because the puck had not to crossed the goal line, and Ruutu chased it down and took a shot from an impossible angle. Lundqvist made an easy save on the play.

"I didn't shoot (originally), I shot from the corner, so I guess that says it all," said Ruutu.

The Rangers were outraged, believing that Lundqvist had already stopped the puck once, and that it was an unnecessary cheap shot from Ruutu.

Ruutu says he's not pressing the NHL to look into the stick incident, claiming that's not his role.

"I think it might have been (Colton) Orr, but I'm not sure," Ruutu, said, when pressed on who may have swung a stick at him. "Ice chips were flying all over the place, but if it's on tape, it's on tape. If it's not, it's not."

As the Rangers stepped on the ice to congratulate Lundqvist for the victory, several players approached Ruutu to say they weren't pleased with his antics. Ruutu, in turn, talked to the officials.

"I just asked (the referees) that I think I'm allowed to be on my side (of the ice) and (why are) they coming right at me? I didn't know what the ruling is. I didn't know if that was the case, but I guess there wasn't much to say."

With Ruutu, there's always plenty to say.

 
 
 
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