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Sutter family reunion highlights 11-game slate

by Adam Schwartz
The Devils travel to Carolina in a unique matchup that sees New Jersey coach Brent Sutter facing his son Brandon for the first time in one of 11 games Tuesday night.

While Brent Sutter hopes for a New Jersey victory, he is also thrilled for his son.

"The way I look at it, I'm excited for him," Brent Sutter told The Record (Hackensack, N.J.). "This is a dream of his and he's living it and trying to fulfill it to the best of his capabilities. I happen to be his dad that's going to be coaching against him. I don't want him to worry about that at all. It's just that his old man happens to be on the opposite side. He just needs to go out there and be a good player and play well to help his team and I'm going to do my job coaching to help ours."

Devils center Bobby Holik had some humorous comments about the situation.

"I kill him," Holik said joking to The Record, "Oh, you said Brandon Sutter. Then, I give him the puck and skate away."

Holik later gave a serious answer when asked about the situation.

"The game is so fast, you don't really think about who's out there against you," Holik told The Record.

Earlier this season, Brent's nephew and Brandon's cousin, Brett Sutter, became the eighth member of the Sutter family to play in the NHL when he made his debut for the Flames. Brett has since been demoted to the Flames' American Hockey League affiliate in Quad City.

In addition to the to the Devils-Hurricanes game, the Wild battle the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins (7 p.m. ET VERSUS); the Sabres host the Senators; the Flyers return to the east coast from California when they visit the Capitals; the Panthers conclude a four-game road trip in Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN); the struggling Penguins host the Thrashers; and the Blue Jackets battle the Red Wings in a Central Division showdown.

Later, the Avalanche look to avoid their fourth straight loss when they suit up in Nashville; the Coyotes begin a three-game homestand when they play the Blackhawks; the Ducks renew their rivalry with the Kings; and the Sharks face off with the Flames in a rematch of last season's first round playoff matchup.

Here's what to watch:

* Wild left wing Andrew Brunette, who is second on the team with 10 goals, has just 1 goal in his last 14 games. Brunette, who has scored 15 goals in each of his last eight seasons, has never scored 30 goals.

* Bruins defenseman Matt Hunwick, who had 1 assist in 13 games with the Bruins last season, is second among rookie defensemen with 15 points in 27 games this season. Hunwick, drafted No. 224 in the 2004 Entry Draft, has the best plus-minus among rookie defensemen with a plus-15 rating.

* Sharks right wing Mike Grier, who had 13 assists and 22 points and a minus-8 rating in 78 games last season, has 9 assists and 16 points and a plus-7 rating in 36 games this season. Grier, whose father Bobby works for the Houston Texans of the National Football League, had his lone two-goal game of the season Saturday in the Sharks 5-3 win against the Islanders.   

* Calgary, which is in first place in the Northwest Division with 50 points, has a 13-4-3 home record. The Flames, who have scored the most goals in the division with 120, have yielded the most goals in the division with 116.

* Senators left wing Nick Foligno, whose dad Mike played more than 1,000 NHL games, has 2 goals in his last six games. Nick, who has a minus-5 rating in his last four games, is one of four Senators with at least a minus-12 rating.

* Philadelphia captain Mike Richards, who leads the team with 27 assists, has no assists in eight of his last nine games, but had three assists last Friday in the Flyers 5-4 shootout victory against the Ducks. Richards, who has just 3 of his 15 goals on the power play, leads the Flyers forwards with an average ice time of 22:04.

* Devils right wing Brian Gionta, who holds the franchise record for 48 goals in the 2005-06 season, has 5 points in his last three games. Gionta, who plays alongside Dainius Zubrus and Patrik Elias, is tied for second on the team with a plus-14 rating.

* Toronto defenseman Jeff Finger, who averages the second-most shorthanded ice time on the team at 2:45, leads the team with 80 blocked shots. Finger, who had 40 penalty minutes in 72 games with the Avalanche last season, has 33 penalty minutes in 32 games this season.

* Penguins right wing Petr Sykora, who plays on a line with Evgeni Malkin and Ruslan Fedotenko, has 10 assists and 15 points in 25 career games against the Thrashers, including 2 assists and 3 points in two games this season. Sykora, who is third on the team with 13 goals, has just 1 goal in his last eight games.

* Detroit center Jiri Hudler, who had 13 goals in 81 games last season, has 15 goals in 38 games this season. Hudler, who had 2 goals and an assist at the Bridgestone Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, averages just 13:15 of ice time.

* The Avalanche, who are in last place in the Northwest Division with 39 points, have the worst power play in the division at 16 percent. Colorado, which has a 6-8-1 record when outshooting their opponent, has a 13-10-0 record when being outshot.

* Blackhawks right wing Kris Versteeg, who plays on a line with Martin Havlat, leads the League's rookies with 32 points. Versteeg, who was drafted No. 134 in 2004, has 4 goals and 8 points in his last six games.

* Anaheim center Brendan Morrison, who had an assist in his last game against the Kings, has 4 goals and 6 points in his last six games. Morrison, who has had 50 points in six separate seasons, has just 14 points this season and is on pace to finish the season with just 29.

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