The way Ryan Suter sees it, anyone could play the 35 minutes or so that he regularly logs for the Wild. Never mind the fact that no NHL player has played more than 35 minutes in three consecutive regulation games since the stat started being kept 13 years ago -- a feat the 28-year-old defenseman accomplished earlier this week over a seven-day period. To Suter, it's no big deal that he has been able to play that many minutes. What matters is being productive while he's out there. That's what sets Suter's game apart. A disproportionate amount of his minutes come at the end of games -- during crunch time. It's no coincidence that his record-setting streak came in three close games that went to overtime. In Wednesday's 2-1 overtime win over Toronto, the final game of the three-game stretch, Wild coach Mike Yeo estimated Suter was on the ice for nine of the final 13 minutes, largely because of a five-minute power play for the Wild. "It's a ridiculous amount that he's playing in these overtime periods," Yeo said. But nothing new for him. Suter led all NHL players in minutes per game during the regular season and in the playoffs last season. This season, no other player is close to his workload. Suter leads the league in ice time, averaging 29 minutes, 43 seconds per game. The next-closest player, Calgary's Dennis Wideman, comes in at 2:19 less, and no other player averages more than 27. The ice time doesn't faze Suter, who said he prefers it. The more he plays, the more he's into the game. "I'm just a good glider," he says. There's something to that, but a more important reason is that he is rarely out of position. Younger players -- who get tired more quickly, Suter said -- always seem to be chasing the puck. Because Suter is so often in the correct position -- and often even a step ahead of the offense -- he doesn't have to work as hard or skate as much. "I'm more of a positional player than a go-run-and-make-the-big-hit player," Suter said. "I think the biggest thing is being in the right position so you're not chasing the play. That's when you get tired, when you're chasing the puck." And because he is rarely out of position, he almost never takes a big hit.
Big minutes no big deal for defenseman Ryan Suter
St. Paul Pioneer Press | Nov 17