Bolts coach Boucher praises ‘head hunter’ Gudas


Though he’s only played three NHL contests, Tampa Bay rookie defenseman Radko Gudas has already made a big impression on his head coach, Guy Boucher.

“He’s a head hunter,” Boucher told the Tampa Bay Times. “He’s one of those guys that hits you clean but extremely hard.”

Gudas, 22, was taken by Tampa in the third round (66th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He’s spent the last three seasons with AHL Norfolk/Syracuse and, this season, made his NHL debut in a 3-2 win over Florida — during which he did this to Panthers forward Kris Versteeg:

The hit knocked Versteeg out of the contest and led to season-ending knee surgery, but both Gudas and Boucher insisted the hit was clean.

“It’s the type of my game. I play the body,” Gudas told the St. Petersburg Times. “I wasn’t going to hurt him or anything. I went for the puck and turned my back to him and he kind of tried to jump around me.

“It’s something that happens in hockey. I obviously didn’t want him to get hurt or anything.”

Boucher said the hit “wasn’t cheap” and “wasn’t anything, just bad luck for Versteeg.”

Boucher also said he’s quickly gaining trust in Gudas, who he compares to former hard-hitting defenseman Darius Kasparaitis.

Gudas is doing all he can to reprise the role.  He has 14 hits and seven blocked shots through three games and played a career-high 20:03 in a 4-1 win over Carolina on Saturday.

“He’s been terrific,” Boucher said. “We knew he was good. We knew he was probably ready. We just needed to put him on the ice and see how close he is. And he’s not just close, he was probably our best defenseman (Thursday in a loss to the Islanders) and almost our best defenseman in his first game in the NHL.

“He’s been doing it all right now.”

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?