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Perception of What Brandon Sutter Should be Has Been Wrong

December 9, 2014, 8:22 AM ET [369 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
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The Pittsburgh Penguins may have dropped the decision to the New York Rangers in overtime but when take into consideration all the variables at play it was a pretty decent result.

Playing without Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Patric Hornqvist, Pascal Dupuis, Chris Kunitz, and Beau Bennett is a tall order. The Penguins dominated the first and third periods while the Rangers did most of their damage in period two.

The Penguins have taken three out of the last four points possible and that is a good formula for success right now. Keep buying time for the GM.

Kris Letang should be back in action on Friday night against Calgary. He started skating with the tema and should be involved in contact drills in the very near future. Having the next three days off from game action is a well-timed break with so many players injured.

One of the more obvious things that stuck out to me against the Rangers is that Brandon Sutter should continue to play with Evgeni Malkin. Brandon Sutter is what he is, a complimentary piece that can play well with better players than himself. He cannot carry a line and the Penguins should stop asking him to do so. Sutter has been somewhat typecast as a defensive third line center in his career but it’s the opposite that is actually true. He is a guy whose offensive qualities are his best assets, not his defensive qualities. His history of bad possession numbers points to his limitations when put in that defensive role. Instead of the Penguins trying to fit a square peg in a round hole they should embrace his ability to carry the puck and shoot it. Playing with third liners isn’t going to create as many opportunities for him to play to his strengths.

I would still target David Perron via trade, but last night was a little glimpse into how the Penguins could get away without Brandon Sutter as a third line center. A big reason for that is…

You can finally notice that Marcel Goc plays for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now that he has a couple of legitimate NHL players on his line you can see he does possess some ability. For now there is no reason for the Penguins not to keep Goc as the third line center to allow to Sutter bump up. I would continue to use that setup even when Hornqvist and Kunitz return. Spaling and Downie can find their rightful spots back in the bottom six once that happens. The fourth line could hypothetically be Adams-Spaling-Downie which is drastically better than the Sill-Ebbett-Adams trio.

Fast forward even further to when Beau Bennett returns and you have something like the following:


This kind of lineup would be competitive and allow Jim Rutherford to find the best deal for his team. Both star players get guys that can make plays, thus maximizing their value. Brandon Sutter’s value is maximized. The bottom six grouping has cut back drastically on players who are complete liabilities. Nick Spaling is now in more appropriate fourth line role.

Looking at that depth chart really makes the Pascal Dupuis situation all the more depressing. Plugging him in there would do wonders for the team.

You can play around with the bottom six combinations but having Goc at third line center and Spaling at fourth line center makes the most sense.

Brian Dumoulin had a night to forget but it doesn’t define him as a player. Looking at it from a big picture standpoint you can see why people think he is ready to be an NHL regular. He has the skillset to be successful, things just didn’t come together last night. He has size, puck skills, can skate well, and can play in any game situation.

Congratulations to Jaromir Jagr on his 1,500th NHL game last night. He had a goal and an assist which moved him one point past the great Marcel Dionne on the all time scoring list. Jagr now has 1,772 points. Next up on the list? Ron Francis’ 1,798 points. And how about some love for Ron Francis, probably the quietest 1,798 points somebody could possibly earn. He never gets enough credit for how great he was.

Pretty good job by Pittsburgh last night in a losing cause.

I have been looking into how power plays are awarded in the NHL and will have a post about it in the future but from what I have found so far it is mostly random and full of human error.

I for one am looking forward to watching Kapanen in this tournament, should be fun.

I agree with the coach’s philosophy here.

That’s all for now.

Thanks for reading!

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