Gudbranson (orbital bone) has ‘played poorly since he’s had that cage on,’ so Florida healthy scratched him


Panthers d-man Erik Gudbranson played with a full face cage for nine games since undergoing orbital bone surgery in December, and head coach Peter Horachek saw enough to keep Gudbranson from dressing in No. 10.

On Sunday, Horachek made his prized young blueliner a healthy scratch for a 5-4 shootout win over Detroit, explaining that Gudbranson’s play has gone downhill since donning the protective gear.

“The bottom line is he really hasn’t played well,” Horachek said, per the Miami Herald. “He has played poorly since he’s had that cage on.”

The move probably didn’t come as a huge shock given Horachek had trimmed Gudbranson’s minutes in recent games. The 22-year-old rearguard played just 11:15 in last week’s win over Pittsburgh and hasn’t seen more than 16 minutes in any of his last seven games.

Still, the move is curious. Florida’s first-round pick (third overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Gudbranson had seven points in 37 games prior to getting hurt, averaging around 20 minutes a night (he played a season-high 23:29 in a Dec. 3 loss to Ottawa).

Horachek sounded somewhat sympathetic to Gudbranson’s plight — “it’s difficult for a player to wear that cage when he’s not used to it,” he explained — but said that he had to do what was best for the team.

“We’ve been going with six guys, now we have a healthy guy [Dylan Olsen] back,” Horacheck said. “You have to make decisions. He has to learn from it.”

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…

Two-for-two: Another successful coach’s challenge as Sens reverse Kane’s goal

Dave Cameron
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Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.

Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.

From the league:

At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.

The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.