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Gudbranson to make NHL regular season debut Saturday

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Like most everyone else upon hearing the news, I scrambled for the Panthers' 2011-12 schedule in the hope that Florida would be taking on the beloved Canadiens within the first nine games of the season. After all, what fanbase above all others has missed Travis Moen more than we?

Just short of miraculously - at game number eight - is Montreal. Even in a hella-crazy bizarro world such as the one in which we currently live, the Hockey Gods scrape out a way to satisfy even us non-traditional-market heathens residing south of Philadelphia. Slide me another Wing of Bat while scoring one for the schedule makers.

And so the Erik Gudbranson era finally begins in Sunrise (or more accurately, Uniondale) when the Islanders host the Cats only a few days from now. I made no secret of my opinion throughout the summer that "Guds" was never a shoe-in for a roster spot, but advanced maturity, ridiculous size, and a remarkable depth of on-ice wisdom gained over the past year along with the almost laughable Mike Kostka carrot conspired to gain the 19-year old a well-deserved blueline placement, at least initially, among the ranks of Brian Campbell, Ed Jovanovski, emerging powerhouse Dmitry Kulikov, etc.

We've obtained exclusive behind-the-scenes video of what's widely believed to be Erik's training camp "kicker", but decide for yourself.