Penguins, Blue Jackets heading in different directions since trade deadline |

Penguins, Blue Jackets heading in different directions since trade deadline

Jonathan Bombulie
Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson (44) skates during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres, Friday, March. 1, 2019, in Buffalo N.Y.

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.”

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Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
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