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Disciplined Sutter Having Unique Season

Friday, 03.26.2010 / 3:26 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Disciplined Sutter Having Unique Season
No one could accuse Brandon Sutter of being a dirty player. Still, despite how hard he plays the game each and every night, his squeaky-clean record is very surprising.

Paul Branecky
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If he can muster up at least two more goals in the final eight games of the season, Sutter would become the first player to score 20 goals while accumulating just two penalty minutes in 10 years. The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Sergei Berezin last accomplished that feat during the 1999-00 season.

Perhaps unfortunately for Sutter, that type of effort is the stuff the dreaded Lady Byng Trophy, given each year to the league’s most sportsmanlike player, is made of.

”I’m going to start slashing everyone now,” said the 21-year-old, shaking his head when told for the first time of his impending accomplishment.

Sutter’s only infraction of the year was a minor penalty for hooking. Even while being put on the spot, he remembered it immediately.

”Yep, it happened in Florida,” he said.

On December 18, to be exact. Forty-one games ago.

Occasionally, being able to vividly remember such a routine play as the only crime committed in a long season could sound alarm bells that a player isn’t competing hard enough. Clearly, that’s not the case with Sutter.

”It’s not a two-penalty-minute season because he doesn’t go into the dark areas and never hits anybody,” said coach Paul Maurice. “He’s very, very smart and does everything with his stick on the ice, and because he’s so smart his body position is always good and he’s not reaching in from behind. 

”He’s willing to go in and battle, while a lot of guys who are in the under-20 category don’t get near a lot of people to take penalties. His game is not like that, and he’s just a real smart guy with his stick.”

Sutter’s clean record comes despite the fact that he routinely goes up against some of the opposition’s best players on a nightly basis. His discipline is also helpful covering up the sins of his teammates, as he plays a regular role on the penalty kill.

“Obviously you don’t want to be in the box all night,” he said. “You just want to be smart, and usually there’s stuff after whistles where you take your penalties for roughing and stuff like that, but I just haven’t taken any penalties.”

Earlier in his career, Sutter was a regular goon by comparison. He picked up two fighting majors during his rookie season, which accounted for 10 of his 16 penalty minutes. He also posted a career high 54 in 2006-07 during his second full year of junior hockey in Red Deer.

”I definitely had more in junior,” he said, defending his street cred.

All kidding aside, the Hurricanes are a much better team with Sutter on the ice and out of the penalty box. His improvement from this season compared to last has been striking to the point that he’s undoubtedly ahead of schedule on his development and possibly ahead of the team’s already-lofty long-term projections.

”It’s not just a good player and then in four or five years when he develops he’s going to be an impact player for the Hurricanes,” said Maurice. “He is now, and there’s nothing to his game to suggest that he’s been lucky in doing it.

“With Sutter and Staal, we’ve got a good combination and one-two punch that can allow you to do some things as a coach in terms of line match-ups to get Staal away from the other team’s best at times and still score the goals.”

Ward coming back
The Hurricanes’ reassignment of Justin Peters today has paved the way for Cam Ward to return to the team in a backup role for Saturday’s home game against Atlanta. Manny Legace is still expected to earn the start in that game, but if all goes well, Maurice said he is planning to start Ward in Atlanta on Monday.

Peters’ return will be a welcome one for the Albany River Rats, who have also been struggling with injuries at the goaltending position as they attempt to solidify their hold on a playoff spot. Justin Pogge and Mike Murphy, both under contract with Carolina, have been out for the last several weeks.


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
J. Skinner 82 28 23 -2 51
V. Rask 80 21 27 -6 48
J. Staal 82 20 28 6 48
E. Lindholm 82 11 28 -23 39
J. Faulk 64 16 21 -22 37
J. Nordstrom 71 10 14 1 24
A. Nestrasil 55 9 14 4 23
R. Nash 64 9 13 -5 22
N. Hanifin 79 4 18 -14 22
J. Slavin 63 2 18 1 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 23 17 10 .909 2.41
E. Lack 12 14 6 .901 2.81