Gudlevskis playing waiting game: 'I need to be patient'
Goalie Ben Bishop is taking a lion's share of the starts in net for the Lightning, and deservedly so, as he's playing some of the best hockey of his career.
Tampa Bay is keeping a future No. 1 Andrei Vasilevskiy fresh by shuttling him back and forth to AHL Syracuse, where he's made six starts this past month.
But what about Kristers Gudlevskis?
Gudlevskis, 23, the third wheel in this goalie rotation, sits and waits, having not started a game since Dec. 9 in Syracuse. He's earned his share of flier miles, taking Vasilevskiy's place on the Lightning bench the past few weeks to back up Bishop.
"It's just part of the job," Gudlevskis said. "Sometimes to move forward you need to take a couple steps back. Obviously I want to play. But it's a good experience, watch some good goalies."
Gudlevskis smiled, "Maybe recharge the batteries. We'll see."
Gudlevskis is being a good soldier, but you can't blame him if he's frustrated. After taking a bulk of the starts for Syracuse to start the season, Gudlevskis has been relegated to practices for most of this month. When called upon to play, Gudlevskis shined, stopping 31 of 32 shots in a 1-0 overtime loss in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup champions, his second NHL start.
It would appear likely Vasilevskiy stays with Syracuse to play Tuesday against Hershey. Bishop is likely to start Wednesday against the Rangers, having had significant career success against them.
Gudlevskis doesn't know the immediate plan, saying there's some "good parts and bad parts" to his situation. Who knows? With such goalie depth in the organization (Adam Wilcox also back in Syracuse), Gudlevskis could also be a trade chip.
"I need to be patient," he said. "Work hard, and we'll see."