After missing three games, Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas returned to the lineup against the New Jersey Devils and immediately made an impact.
While the grizzled defenseman is more known for his defensive and physical play, Gudas showed a few flashes on the offensive end. In the first period, Gudas split two defenders with some nifty stick handling only to be stopped by Devils’ goaltender Keith Kinkaid.
Anytime you play against the Devils, you know you are in for a defensive minded match and Friday night was no different. Teams carefully planned their counterattack, and despite several extended periods in the offensive zone, the Lightning were very limited in their scoring opportunities early on until the game opened up due to their attempts to notch the tying marker.
Having Gudas back in the lineup was huge in keeping pace with the Devils defensively.
With seven goals in 122-career NHL games now, no one will ever confuse Gudas with a goal scorer but with the Lightning struggling to get goals, scoring from anywhere would be a welcomed sight.
Of course, even while Gudas was doing his best Steven Stamkos impressions it didn’t take away from his regular duties. The 24-year old native of the Czech Republic led all players in hits with five, as well as blocking two shots.
With games against the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins before hitting the Christmas break, Gudas will be looked upon to bring his physical presence up against the two star-studded teams.
Anything offensively would just be the topping of the cake for a team that has been struggling of late to get consistent scoring.
Anthony covers the Tampa Bay Lightning for The Hockey Writers. He is also currently a Featured Columnist for Last Word on Sports, and has held editorial positions on multiple Fansided websites and the now defunct The Farm Club.