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 defensemen has played in 46 games and has only scored 2 goals and 5 assists. The 3rd overall draft pick in the 2010 NHL draft has not been a major factor for the Panthers. This is his third season with the team and it seems the only way he will get his playing time back is when he is able to play without the cage.
For more on this story visit: Mike Halford, nbcsports.com Panthers Healthy Scratch Gudbranson by Damian Arbuckle