Red Wings’ Pius Suter proves to be ‘useful’ player with his versatility, production

Detroit News

Detroit — Pius Suter had to laugh little bit recently when asked about the differences of playing center or wing.

Suter, at first, explained the different nuances of the positions, the responsibilities involved.

But then, Suter had to stop and smile.

“It’s not like it’s rocket science,” Suter said.

For Suter, being a versatile player who can play either position, be an effective penalty killer, or a guy who can fill in on the power play, he figures it’s all part of the job description.

Coach Derek Lalonde can plug Suter in more of a scoring role on the top two lines, or a checking role in the bottom two lines.

Suter will provide a professional performance anywhere asked.

“Our forward group, man-games lost from the beginning of the year, it’ll be a huge number,” Lalonde said. “To have someone like that, to fill and plug holes through the injuries, he’s a good, useful player.”

Suter feels he developed his versatile game while playing junior hockey in Guelph (Ontario), on a team that included Wings teammate Robby Fabbri and former Wing Tyler Bertuzzi.

It was a deep and veteran lineup, so Suter had to be prepared to fill whatever role was available to him.

“We were stacked in Guelph, if anyone got hurt I to play kind of thing,” Suter said. “I always played in the top-six of my junior team (in Switzerland), and coming up, I had the understanding of what my strength was and what the other guys have, and what you’re supposed to do.”

It’s interesting to see how Suter’s role has evolved this season with the Wings. Suter was a healthy scratch on opening night, when the Wings had a healthy and deep lineup, despite scoring 15 goals while playing all 82 games last season.

But this season, as the injuries began to pile up and eventually the Wings dealt players at the trade deadline, Suter’s role and ice time expanded, while Saturday scoring his 14th goal.

“We were just a completely different team,” said Lalonde of his opening night lineup, and having Suter sit. “He’s a very valuable player. He’s smart, can play in different situations and he’s done that, center, fourth-line, he’s been on our first-line, kills penalties, he can play the wing.

“He’s brought stability and been a useful player.”

Improvement made

Forward David Perron has been on teams that have made the playoffs seven consecutive years.

The Wings will miss playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.

Watching how the Wings have improved this season, Perron feels the latter can come to an end in 2023-24.

“I just feel that in a lot of aspects of our game we’ve gotten better,” Perron said. “That’s something Newsy (Lalonde) should be proud of as a first-year coach. He had a lot to learn. He’s going to keep getting better and I’m sure, just like everyone else, we go home for the summer, we evaluate ourselves, the team, everything, and he’s going to keep pushing for more.”

The Wings, Perron said, can take a lot from these late-season games against prospective playoff teams.

“These games are important for us to keep playing the right way,” Perron said. “When we head to Traverse City next year (for training camp), those are details that are going to stay with us. It’s only going to help the young guys, or whoever is going to join our group over the summer, gel quicker.”

▶ Faceoff: 7 p.m. Monday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit

▶ TV/radio: BSD/97.1 FM

▶ Outlook: The Stars (44-21-14) are tied with Colorado atop the Central Division and need victories to secure home-ice advantage in the first-round. … LW Jason Robertson (45 goals, 103 points), D Miro Heiskanen (69 points) and G Jake Oettinger (35-11-11, 2.42 GAA) form the nucleus of a young, talented lineup.

ted.kulfan@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tkulfan

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