Penguins, Blue Jackets heading in different directions since trade deadline
As good as a trade-deadline acquisition looks on paper, he still has to fit into his new team’s lineup.
That’s a lesson the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets are on opposite sides of coming into their key Metropolitan Division matchup Tuesday night.
Ballyhooed pick-ups Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel, Adam McQuaid and Keith Kinkaid have yet to jell with the Blue Jackets, who are 2-3-0 since the deadline. Defenseman Erik Gudbranson has looked good for the Penguins, who are 3-0-1 since acquiring him.
It’s far too soon to declare Columbus’ deadline a disaster and the Penguins’ deadline a rousing success, but fit matters, Gudbranson said.
“Sometimes teams change things around and there’s that feeling-out period. Some teams work for some guys and some teams don’t for others,” Gudbranson said. “It really is a chess match for GMs all over the league. You can land in a place where you play well and you can land in a place where it doesn’t work so well for you.”
Gudbranson said fitting into a new team isn’t a matter of learning a new playbook. In hockey, Xs and Os are largely similar around the league.
“There’s slight little adjustments, but it’s not like you’re having to learn a crazy new system all over again,” he said. “At this level, I think you’re able to adapt to those little changes relatively easily.”
He said the key to a seamless transition is coming to a team with a compatible style of play, quickly developing chemistry with new teammates and simply playing well on an individual basis, winning 50-50 battles all over the ice.
“I am lucky, for sure. There’s a lot of really good hockey players on this team that are potentially making me look good. That’s probably the real answer,” Gudbranson said. “But no, I think I’ve fit in well here. They play aggressive, which suits my style. I’ve been having some fun, trying to play loose. These are fun games to be a part of.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .