made noise on the score sheet in the Canes’ season opening win over Minnesota, but it was his all-around game that had coach Paul Maurice most pleased the next day.
Sutter’s two-goal performance was surprisingly the first time he’s ever found the net twice in his young career. As good as he was during last season’s 21-goal campaign, all of his damage was done over a host of one-goal outings.
It didn’t dawn on him immediately upon scoring his eventual game-winner in the second period on Thursday, but Sutter said that he was aware that he’d never scored twice in an NHL game. Maurice was slightly more taken aback.
“I’m surprised that he hasn’t, but I wouldn’t have spent much time thinking about it because that’s not only where his value is as a player,” said Maurice.
Specifically, the Canes’ head coach said that it was Sutter’s all-around two-way play that was perhaps more impressive than his goals.
“When I looked at Brandon’s game last night on the video, it was all the other parts of his game that made it good,” said Maurice. “What he does in the small areas with his stick and his body position, that’s what’s made him a great player.”
He won’t score two goals every game, but the Canes have yet to determine a handle on Sutter’s offensive ceiling. The team sang higher praises about his hockey sense, awareness and intangibles than his goal-scoring ability when they drafted him in the first round of the 2007 draft. At that point, projections as a consistent 20-25 goal player seemed reasonable.
Now that he’s already accomplished a 21-goal campaign as a 21-year old, where do those projections now lie?
For Maurice, that questions only scratches the surface of Sutter’s overall impact on the franchise.
“The focus will not be on goals to determine the quality of his season,” said Maurice. “He’s going to be a ‘won games’ kind of guy. If you’re winning a lot of games, he must be playing well.”
Now that the Hurricanes have won the first game of their back-to-back set against Minnesota in Helsinki, they’ll look to earn the sweep in tonight’s rematch at Hartwall Areena and ensure a fun ride home to Raleigh. Fun fact: Joni Pitkanen’s cocker spaniel will be traveling home with us.
Since we’re heading straight to the plane after the game, I’m not positive I’ll be able to post a full recap of tonight’s game. That being said, be sure to follow our twitter feeds @nhl_canes and @canes_gameday for in-game updates and real-time postgame quotes.I’ve also posted another photo gallery from our time in Helsinki. Since we haven’t had the official guided tours and I’ve only had an hour or two each day to explore, I’ve been chipping away at this over the last several days rather than in one swoop. For the record, I’m a huge fan of the city. There’s not quite as much history and breathtaking sights as there are in
St. Petersburg, but it’s been a great place to spend a few days.