It might not be a coincidence that Panthers third-year defenseman Erik Gudbranson has scored three goals in his last two games including two in Monday afternoon's 6-3 preseason win over the Predators and another in last week's intrasquad scrimmage. Gudbranson 21 who took a step backward in his overall development last season after sustaining a shoulder injury in an offseason wakeboarding accident wasn't happy to see a zero in his goal-scoring column. Of course Gudbranson is always more concerned with his defensive prowess so his league-worst minus-22 (tied with teammate Brian Campbell) was far more disturbing. So this summer he returned home to Ottawa and worked out frequently with an innovative skating and stickhandling aid called the Power Edge Pro Training System. Then Gudbranson spent two separate weeks in the Boston area with Panthers skills coach Paul Vincent to continue reinforcing his overall skating and shooting skills. "My skating was good but not efficient at all'' Gudbranson said Wednesday morning after practice at Saveology.com Iceplex. "I was wasting a lot of energy with those eccentric movements. I really just tightened it up with Coach V bringing back the basics of skating simplifying my stride becoming more compact and efficient.'' The multi-positional Power Edge stick creates different angles and smaller spaces for players to practice their toe drags over and unders while working on their weak and strong sides. It was invented by Tom Quinn a longtime Canadian junior hockey coach and is being marketed by Wayne Gudbranson a notable junior coach as well as Erik's father. "It's basically a stick and board with a hole in it'' Gudbranson said. "You can challenge yourself in drills to go forward backwards jump over it extend it move stuff to one leg. It's about having that creative mindset while improving your stickhandling and [skating] edge skills.'' Gudbranson owns a blistering slap shot but it took him to his third season at Kingston in the Ontario (junior) Hockey League before he felt comfortable enough to take chances on the offensive end as he scored 12 goals with 22 assists in 44 games. This is his third NHL season and he hopes to make a similar jump into the offensive zone. "My primary objective as I get more comfortable in my third year is to step up offensively have the patience with the puck on my stick and not be so worried about getting caught up going deep into the offensive zone'' said Gudbranson who has two career goals and 10 assists in 104 games. "I think the accumulation of working hard this summer being in shape and trusting my skating I have more confidence to step up and hold onto the puck in pressure situations.'' Gudbranson who notched four power-play goals in his third year of junior is hoping to earn more time on the Panthers' power-play unit that dropped from seventh in power-play goals in 2011-12 to 13th last season.
Panthers' Gudbranson hopes to improve offense this season
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel | Sep 19