Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gudas ready to take on 'hard minutes' for Lightning

TAMPA — It is tough to say how many minutes Radko Gudas, in his first full NHL season, will play for the Lightning.

Even coach Jon Cooper hedged, though he said knowingly, "I don't think Radko Gudas is going to be a five-minute-a-game guy. He's going to play."

Gudas' minutes might be one of the most important elements for a defensive unit that must be more consistent if Tampa Bay is to have success. That is because the minutes Gudas eats will reduce the minutes of his fellow defensemen, and not only the quantity but quality.

The result should be fresher legs for everyone, which is invaluable over a full season.

"Radko eats up hard minutes because he plays against big, strong, tougher guys," Cooper said. "You get that kind of balance in your D, maybe guys aren't seeing the No. 1 line every shift. It's not as taxing on them."

"I'm ready for every situation," Gudas said before Saturday night's 5-4 shootout win over the Panthers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. "I'm ready to take some responsibility for more minutes as the season goes on."

Gudas, 23, was a revelation last season after his promotion from AHL Syracuse in March.

In 22 games, the 6-foot, 206-pounder had two goals and five points, and was plus-3 with an average 16:59 of ice time. His 87 hits — in less than half of the lockout-shortened 48-game season — were third on the team.

Imagine that number over an 82-game season with, say, an average 20 minutes of ice time.

Gudas isn't subtle, either. His hits are board-rattlers, his hip checks vintage.

"You have to make sure you keep your head up when he's on the ice," Syracuse teammate P.C. Labrie said. "He'll just bury you."

"Not only does he stick a little fear into the opposition," Cooper said, "he can play, and that makes him a valuable asset."

That said, Gudas knows his style means referees keep an extra eye on him. And every time an opponent flips over his back after a hip check, he knows someone will want to retaliate.

He also has to be careful not to let his emotions overtake him, as they did Saturday when he mugged Scott Gomez with 35.1 seconds left in overtime.

Gudas threw punches but got lucky; he and Gomez both got roughing penalties. The timing was bad, Gudas said. But he said Gomez punched him first: "I don't like to be pushed around. It's not the smartest thing to do, but it happened."

"Probably not the best," Cooper said of the timing but added, "I don't want to pull back what makes him what he is. He plays the game hard."

Gudas, who had 13 fights and 207 penalty minutes last season for Syracuse, always has played with an edge, same as his father, Leo, a bruising defenseman who at the '92 Olympics won bronze playing for Czechoslovakia.

He and Leo text message or talk by phone after every game, mostly about what Gudas did wrong, the player said, laughing. When he talks to his mom, though, it is likely to get a new recipe. Gudas loves to cook goulash, fondue and svickova, a dish of beef tenderloin, dumplings, celery, carrots and gravy.

"He has some really great soups, too," Labrie said.

Mostly, though, Gudas has a single-minded purpose to play in the NHL. "That would be living the dream for me," he said.

Minute by minute.

Gudas ready to take on 'hard minutes' for Lightning 09/21/13 [Last modified: Sunday, September 22, 2013 12:14am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Cup-winning Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk makes Hockey Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said Dave Andreychuk's name has surfaced often the past eight years with the selection committee.

    30 Oct 2001:  Left wing Dave Andreychuk #25 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates towards the blue line during the NHL game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada.  The Maple Leafs defeated the Lightning 3-2.  Mandatory Credit:  Dave Sanford /Allsport
  2. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  3. Rays at Pirates, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, Pittsburgh

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Pirates

    7:05, PNC Park

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Probable pitchers

    Rays: Alex Cobb (6-5, 4.05)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
  4. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108
  5. What they're saying about Dave Andreychuk making Hall of Fame

    Lightning Strikes

    "Dave helped me so much when I was just starting my career, a young kid that was looking to find his way as a hockey player, a person and a member of the Tampa Bay community. In addition to watching him compile such awe-inspiring statistics, I remember him as a big brother to me and many others, making sure all the …