Slow Start for Sutter


May 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Brandon Sutter (16) handles the puck against the Ottawa Senators during the third period in game two of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins have had great contributions from the top lines.

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and James Neal have all provided the kind of production the team expected them to have.

Newly-acquired forward Brandon Sutter, has started a little slow.

After showing signs of a promising year during the “Black and Gold” game, Sutter can’t seem to find his game.

For now, the Pens are probably just looking at this and saying he’s probably going through an adjustment period.  The hope is that he just keeps playing hard every game and the points along with the chemistry will eventually come.

It’s difficult to mesh quick with teammates.  Pens fans are probably wondering where Jordan Staal is.  But every team has a short amount of time to make the playoffs and the need to win has intensified vastly.  So it’s possible that Sutter could just be pressing and fans should give him a pass given his circumstances.

Sutter, 23, was selected 11th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.  Last Season, he played in all 82 contests for the Canes and he posted 32 points (17G, 15A).  So far this year, Sutter has only recorded one helper, and it came back in the season opener against Philadelphia.

This is going to take some time.  Comparing the careers of Staal and Sutter so far, Staal has played three more years in the NHL.  And amidst those years, Staal has amassed playoff experience in every one of his six years with Pittsburgh.  Not to mention Staal made two Stanley Cup appearances, while winning one of them.

Sutter is replacing someone who was a valued part of the Penguins team for years.  Especially since Staal’s final season on the Pens might have been his best thus far, it puts a lot of pressure on Sutter.  So while many may want him to produce frequently, understand this is all a process.

There hasn’t been a lack of effort.  In the five games this year, Sutter has assertively showed positive energy and played with a grinding attitude.  The points just quite haven’t clicked yet.  With time, fans will come to see Sutter put up good numbers.

He has had problems on the faceoff as well as limiting turnovers.  This past game, Sutter had two turnovers, in which each of them could’ve easily resulted in scores for Ottawa.  Let’s hope he moves past this.

The Penguins patience with Sutter will pay off.  And not for nothing, but the team–besides the top two lines–really haven’t produced offensively.

Between Matt Cooke, Eric Tangradi, Tyler Kennedy, Joe Vitale, Tanner Glass and Craig Adams, they have a combined one goal and one assist.

You can also put Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz in this list even though they play on the first line because they have a combined two goals and three assists.  One of those goals was an empty-netter (Kunitz) and all of the assists had Malkin or Crosby involved.

Hopefully, one of those players lodges a goal and spark the offense for the rest.  One of the biggest reasons why the Pens won the Stanley Cup in 2009 was because they had three good lines.

It’s one thing if you have two good lines, but they won’t be on the ice all the time.  If the third line of the Pens and perhaps other specific players can get the ball rolling, the team will see the benefits immensely.

But it’ll most definitely be a boost if Sutter can ignite the bottom lines because of his role as the third line center.

Practice will make perfect for the new Penguin.  The more he takes in the system, the more he’s going to blossom.

He and the Penguins will be back on the ice in Pittsburgh tonight versus the Islanders at 7:30 p.m.