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Tracking the Storm

Muller Will Get First Look at Brett Sutter

Thursday, 01.5.2012 / 12:32 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Muller Will Get First Look at Brett Sutter
Brett Sutter will be headed back to Raleigh for his third National Hockey League stint this season, but it will be his first under head coach Kirk Muller.

Michael Smith
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Sutter’s last recall ended on Nov. 29, Muller’s first full day with the Carolina Hurricanes. During his four games with the Canes in November, Sutter had two assists and was even in plus/minus. Since returning to Charlotte, Sutter has experienced his most productive stretch of hockey this season with 8 points (3g, 5a) in 14 games.

“[Sutter] is a guy that’s played reliable up here. He’s hard-nosed,” Muller said. “It goes back to the message that we’re trying to preach right now: We have to have that tenacious mentality a little bit more. We have to be a little harder on the puck and harder with the puck.

“I’ve heard he’s done some good things that way when he’s up here, and we’ve got two opponents that play a hard game. I think it will be a good challenge and a good opportunity for him to come in and be the type of player that we’re speaking of and need right now.”

With how the lines fleshed out today in practice, Sutter will most likely be slotted in the fourth line center position between Anthony Stewart (who celebrates his 27th birthday today) and Andreas Nodl. It’s a spot he can naturally slide into.

With that move comes more line juggling. Muller moved Jussi Jokinen and Tuomo Ruutu up to flank Eric Staal. For a complete list of the lines seen in today’s practice, click here.

“They are three veteran guys. It puts a little bit of an onus on them to lead the charge, and they should produce as the top line,” Muller said. “I didn’t want to touch [Sutter’s] line, and then we are just trying some different options on the third and fourth line that made sense.

“[Jokinen] has had some chemistry with [Staal], and [Ruutu] is playing hard. I think it’s important that you can establish that type of line.”

Some banged up bodies from Tuesday night’s game prevented Muller from making the line switch in yesterday’s practice. He was also waiting to here the prognosis on Jeff Skinner and Patrick Dwyer. They both skated in yellow, non-contact jerseys again today and are probably still a few days off from being cleared for contact.

When either of them returns to the lineup, we’ll most likely see some more line movement. But the sought after end result is the same: a strong and consistent compete level. When asked if Muller had been pleased with the team’s compete level as of late, he said, “Yes and no.”

“We have to understand that it’s competitive. If you let your guard down, you’re going to pay the price,” he said. “One of the big things that we’ve stressed the last couple of days is that competitive level doesn’t mean just finishing checks and playing hard. It’s mental, too.

“A lot of the … opportunities that go against us are because we put the puck in wrong areas,” Muller said. “I think puck awareness is so important in the game, and I think if we get stronger in that, it will give us a better control of the game.”

The Hurricanes take on the Buffalo Sabres tomorrow night before flying to Nashville for a match-up with the Predators on Saturday night. It’s the Hurricanes’ eight of sixteen back-to-back situations this season. In those games, they have a record of 6-6-2; 3-3-1 in the first game and 3-3-1 in the second.

Sutter will be up with the big club for both games. With Sunday a scheduled off-day, news on Skinner or Dwyer’s return most likely will wait until Monday in advance of the Hurricanes’ game with the Philadelphia Flyers at home on Tuesday.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 76 48 21 7 231 179 103
2 x - MTL 77 47 22 8 203 174 102
3 x - TBL 78 47 24 7 250 204 101
4 PIT 76 42 23 11 210 190 95
5 NYI 77 45 27 5 235 215 95
6 WSH 77 42 25 10 227 190 94
7 DET 76 40 23 13 221 208 93
8 BOS 77 39 25 13 204 198 91
9 OTT 76 38 26 12 220 204 88
10 FLA 77 35 27 15 192 210 85
11 CBJ 76 37 35 4 210 234 78
12 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
13 NJD 77 31 33 13 170 197 75
14 CAR 76 28 37 11 176 208 67
15 TOR 77 29 42 6 201 245 64
16 BUF 76 21 47 8 148 255 50

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 71 22 28 -12 50
J. Faulk 76 15 32 -19 47
E. Lindholm 75 16 21 -20 37
J. Skinner 71 18 13 -22 31
V. Rask 74 11 20 -13 31
N. Gerbe 72 9 17 -13 26
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. McClement 76 7 13 -5 20
A. Nestrasil 48 7 13 5 20
J. Staal 40 4 16 -6 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 22 5 .909 2.43
A. Khudobin 8 15 6 .904 2.60