Besides goalies, no NHLer spent more time on the ice last season than Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter. And that has many wondering about the effects of fatigue on the 29-year-old’s performance.
Suter played all 82 games for the Wild in 2013-14, averaging a league-high 29:24 of ice time per contest. Add it up and he skated almost 200 more minutes than the second-most-deployed skater, Erik Karlsson, did for the Ottawa Senators.
And that was just the regular season. Suter also averaged almost 30 minutes in 13 playoff games.
“He’s such an effortless player,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said in defense of Suter’s ice time, per NHL.com. “He’s not a physical player and he’s not necessarily a player who’s leading the rush offensively. He defends really well, he moves the puck really well. He’s such an intelligent, intuitive player. He knows where to go and doesn’t waste a lot of energy flailing around the ice.”
There’s also the matter of Minnesota’s blue line, which, to put it nicely, isn’t among the deepest in the NHL. (Related story: the Wild would love for Matthew Dumba to earn a spot this year.) For coach Mike Yeo, sending Suter over the boards is the easy, stress-free decision.
But the difference now compared to when Suter joined the Wild a couple of years ago is that Minnesota has increased Stanley Cup aspirations. Simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore; the objective is a deep run. And the deeper the run, the more fatigue becomes a factor, particularly for No. 1 defensemen. Remember all the talk of Chris Pronger tiring out in 2010? And Zdeno Chara in 2013? Are the Wild pushing their luck with Suter, who turns 30 in January?
Coach Q said storming out of Tuesday’s postgame presser was a culmination of calls going against his club, adding that the league provided a more detailed explanation of how and why these decisions are being made.
“I just think, we had a couple of occurrences in a short amount of time so obviously a little frustration there,” Quenneville said, per ESPN. “But we did speak to the league and got some [clarification] on the play.
“I just think there’s education across the board and you have a lot of people in the middle of the process making the decisions. As long as we’re getting right is what we’re looking for.”
Panarin’s illness ‘hopefully not long term, but he’s definitely out tonight’
Artemi Panarin will miss his second consecutive game due to illness and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Dallas Stars Thursday night at the United Center.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Panarin’s illness is “hopefully not long term, but he’s definitely out tonight.” Quenneville added that it’s comparable to what ailed Jonathan Toews prior to the All-Star break. Toews played through his illness for about a week but finally had to sit out the third period of the Blackhawks’ Jan. 26 game at Carolina. Toews also missed the All-Star weekend due to that illness and was suspended against Colorado on Feb. 2.
Panarin has 18 goals and 34 assists in 56 games, his 52 points by far the most among NHL rookies. Detroit’s Dylan Larkin is a distant second with 38.
“Nothing wrong with Christian Ehrhoff,” coach Darryl Sutter told reporters Wednesday. “We’re not exactly world beaters here. We don’t have the best defense in the league or the best team in the league. We’re trying to get better in a hurry.”
Ehrhoff will be a $550,000 buried cap hit if #LAKings assign to AHL. EOS space for Kings would rise to $371,600, deadline space to ~$4.2M.
In addition to the Ehrhoff news, goalie Peter Budaj has been added to the Kings’ roster on the NHL’s media website, meaning Jonathan Quick (reportedly “day-to-day” with an injury sustained Tuesday in Boston) could miss some time.