The worst defence pairing of the last 17 years played for the Canucks

Erik Gudbranson and Ben Hutton struggled terribly while paired as a defensive duo for the Vancouver Canucks between 2016 and 2019.

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You don’t need any fancy data on this one, just the simple results: Since the beginning of the NHL’s expanded data era, no pair of defencemen played as much as Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson did for the Vancouver Canucks while doing so badly.

That’s the finding of a big study of NHL data recently completed by the always-intriguing analyst known on X as JFresh.

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They looked at every defence pairing in the NHL that played at least 1,000 minutes together since 2007-08, which is when the NHL first started collecting expanded shot and time on ice data, notably the beginning and end of shifts. JFresh found that the duo with the worst share of goals for and against while they there on the ice were the Canucks’ Ben Hutton and Erik Gudbranson.

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When those two were playing, the Canucks scored just 34.3 per cent of the total goals scored, a truly miserable rate. Hutton and Gudbranson were teammates from 2016 to 2019.

Somewhere, Jason Botchford is screaming.

The next closest duo were both about four percentage points better. The Edmonton Oilers’ Andrew Ference and Jeff Petry, two otherwise pretty solid defencemen, saw their team score just 38.6 per cent of their goals while they were on the ice. Meanwhile, the Columbus Blue Jackets scored just 38.4 per cent of the total goals while Andrew Peek and Slava Gavrikov were on the ice.

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