Nothing this season has gone well for the Carolina Hurricanes, and everyone involved with the team, and maybe even the league, knows that.
The special teams are bad, the injuries are hitting hard, there are major goaltending issues, troubles with holding leads as well as converting plentiful early first-period scoring chances.
But, recently, there have been signs of life. The Canes salvaged a point last Friday despite falling to the Islanders 3-0 early, and then Carolina ended their unbelievable 14-game losing streak by defeating the Wild in a shootout, 5-4. The Hurricanes then could not be wrestled from a win in Montreal until the sixth round of a shootout.
One of the key parts in finally pulling up the Canes from the dead, as well as bringing them back to life once they had broken the streak, was young 21-year-old Brandon Sutter.
Sutter, who is in his second NHL season after being a top American Hockey League (AHL) prospect for the Hurricanes with the Albany River Rats last season.
After a swarm of injuries to the Hurricanes, Sutter was forced to being called up from the minors and play on the fourth line for Carolina against Colorado on Friday, October 23rd.
Sutter then went on to score a goal despite blowing a 2-0 for a 5-4 loss. Sutter scored again the next game, then added and assist, and eventually, the points kept coming for Sutter. In a brutal 5-1 rout against the Sharks on November 1st, Sutter netted the only Hurricanes goal, and then also scored Tuesday night against Montreal on a great pass from veteran Ray Whitney.
Sutter has now worked the way to the top line of the Hurricanes, who currently have six players out on injury. Sutter has five goals, three assists, and eight points in eleven appearances for Carolina, and is also one of only three players with a positive +/- on the roster.
Brandon has played well, shot well, and brought the energy back into the Hurricanes, much like his father, Brent Sutter, the successful head coach of the Calgary Flames.
Much to the credit of Sutter, suddenly the Hurricanes have four points in three games after going seven games without a single point in the standings.
His combination with team veteran Ray Whitney and talented playmaker Eric Cole has been terrific, and has finally filled the whole at the top of the depth chart for Carolina. Sutter has had a perfect zero penalty minutes, the only player on the team to have accomplished that so far.
Even though the Hurricanes have three wins in 20 games, even though they are tied for last in the league, even though their offense is perhaps one of the most inept we've seen in years...
Even though the Carolina Hurricanes have had all the setbacks possible in the modern-day National Hockey League, if their season is salvageable, Brandon Sutter is the player to do it.
And he's just 21.
Brandon Sutter Game Statistics (As of Wednesday, November 18)
Games Played: 11
Goals: 5 (Team Rank: tie-2nd)
Assists: 3 (TR: tie-9th)
Points: 8 (TR: tie-5th)
+/-: +1 (TR: tie-1st)
PIM: 0 (TR: 1st)