Even though Brandon Sutter has played with nearly everybody on the Penguins roster up to this point, he never thought his next two linemates would be Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby.
“Yeah, I didn’t think that those would be my next two,” Sutter laughed
And Sutter never thought it would be with him at right wing, either.
He switched from his usual center position to skate on the right wing of the first line with Kunitz and Crosby for both Tuesday’s practice and Wednesday’s morning skate. If Sutter stays there tonight, it would mark the first time in his NHL career playing wing instead of center.
Though it would definitely be an adjustment, he’s excited for the chance to switch it up and try something new. Why not?
“I don’t think many people would be complaining about it,” Sutter smiled. "It’ll be pretty cool. I’m actually looking forward to the opportunity and I don’t now what the plan is moving forward in terms of when we start getting guys back or whatever, but for now I’m going to go there and try to have some fun and I’m looking forward to it.”
The last time Sutter played wing was for about two months in second year of junior hockey with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League.
“That’s seven, eight years ago now, so it’s been a while. But hopefully I can find a way to get comfortable there,” he said.
Sutter is known for being a two-way player who can play a shutdown role matched up with other team’s top lines. He feels that he’s still going to be able to bring that defensive responsibility on the wing; he’ll just have different assignments there as opposed to when he plays center.
“I think it’s still the same defensive game that we’ve all been playing structurally, but I think it’s just a little bit of a different way to look at the game, different perspective of it,” he said. “Hopefully the first couple shifts I can get a feel for it and go from there.”
And his approach to playing alongside ‘Sid’?
Center/RW - PIT
Goals: 8 | Assists: 8 | Pts: 16
Shots: 71 | +/-: +3
“To be honest with you, I’m not really going to change too much,” Sutter said. “I don’t want to start playing a game that I’m not comfortable with. I know what kind of player I am and I’m not going to try to do things I normally wouldn’t do. I look forward to the opportunity and hopefully we can find ways to have a good night.”
Crosby took a stab at explaining the adjustment from center to wing within coach Dan Bylsma’s systems, saying, “When you’re playing center, you’re used to kind of covering the whole ice. With wing, you’re covering different guys and different areas. I think there’s more kind of stopping and starting, you’re not as free-flowing as when you play center.”
That’s when Crosby paused before saying with a smile, “You’ll have to ask ‘Suttsy’ after tonight. I haven’t really played a lot of wing. But yeah, it’ll be a bit of an adjustment.
“But Suttsy is a smart player and I’m sure he’ll be able to adjust.”