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Maybe Erik Gudbranson really will fit in with the Pittsburgh Penguins?

In buying and selling Erik Gudbranson, the Vancouver Canucks had been roundly applauded. And it was not so considerably because of the return, though Tanner Pearson has established himself capable in two video games with the Canucks.

No, the big acquire for Vancouver was in locating a suitor for the considerably-maligned Gudbranson. Night time immediately after evening he was seemingly unable to generate nearly anything for the Canucks offensively and was usually turnstiled by the opposition. In brief, he looked slow and ineffective in most of the contests he played the very last two many years.

This 12 months, according to a number of telling metrics, he was 1 of the worst defencemen in the league. His ice time experienced, understandably, shrunk less than mentor Travis Inexperienced and he usually located himself on the 3rd pairing.

So it’s a thing of a surprise to see that, immediately after two video games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Gudbranson has not been a entire anchor. In fact, the veteran defenceman has truly looked…capable?

In the two video games Gudbranson has played, he’s been pretty much exclusively paired with Marcus Pettersson (no relation to Elias). The two fashioned the clear second unit driving Justin Schultz and Jack Johnson (also thought of 1 of the poorer rearguards in the league, according to advanced metrics).

The Penguins missing the very first activity to Buffalo 4-3. And though Gudbranson was on the ice for the Sabres tying intention late in the 3rd period, he experienced a sound activity by most measures. And surely when as opposed to his earlier work.

He was truly passing the puck, locating seams in the opposition to get it to his teammates. Indeed, the Penguins dominated the activity in spite of the rating, so his advanced stats had been generally heading to be fairly inflated. But his Relative Corsi (how he done as opposed to the rest of his workforce in phrases of shots directed at the web) was fourth among the Penguins in just over 20 minute of ice time. That just did not transpire in Vancouver, even at the very best of instances.

Of program, possessing incredibly superior forwards assists, and Gudbranson was usually on the ice with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.

The exact was real Saturday in Montreal as the Canadiens hosted Pittsburgh. And though the Penguins won the activity 5-1, the Canadiens truly held perform for most of the activity.

It was the reverse of the Buffalo contest, in that Pittsburgh gamers frequently experienced awful fundamental numbers. But Gudbranson genuinely was not that awful, coming in ninth in phrases of 5-on-5 Relative Corsi on his workforce. Again, that did not transpire incredibly usually in Vancouver.

He also registered an help and was a additionally-3 on the evening, which also did not transpire usually on this side of North The usa.

So, what’s genuinely transformed? He’s enjoying with superior gamers, indeed. Is that it? Perhaps. When he mentioned in his very first interview with the Pittsburgh media, immediately after 1 exercise, that he felt cozy with the team’s process in they way they aid every single other close to the puck, it was hard to get him significantly. Soon after all, it was 1 exercise.

But he reiterated that idea immediately after the activity in opposition to Buffalo. “The puck aid on this workforce is a thing that they preach major time. You could surely sense it early on. There was a whole lot of possibilities, specially less than pressure,” mentioned Gudbranson.

He did not look to believe he experienced possibilities in Vancouver, which is obvious. He was a turnover machine and seemed to be infatuated with icing the puck. And indeed, it’s pretty clear that enjoying with environment course gamers will do wonders for one’s own activity.

Practically nothing Gudbranson does in Pittsburgh will adjust the idea that the Canucks did the correct matter in relocating on from him. But it is attention-grabbing how a various process and the presence of star forwards can seemingly have this sort of an effect on a player a lot of (rightfully) thought was done in the league.

There will be a lot of rough nights for Gudbranson heading forward. But it’s clear he’s in a superior predicament now, and so are the Canucks.

Observe @ncaddell on Twitter

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