MONTREAL – Radko Gudas, who has probably been the Flyers’ most consistent defenseman this season, was suspended by the NHL for two games Wednesday for high-sticking Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov late in the Lightning’s 5-2 win Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Gudas, suspended for the fourth time since he joined the Flyers, will miss the team’s critical games against Montreal on Thursday and Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Flyers are six points out of a playoff spot with 22 games left, and they are chasing the Canadiens and Penguins.
Rookie Phil Myers, who has played one NHL game in his career, is expected to replace Gudas. Both are right-handed shooters.
Gudas has been much more disciplined this season; he has 13 points (two goals, 11 assists) and leads the Flyers with a plus-11 rating. He ranks sixth in the NHL with 197 hits.
With 4 minutes, 8 seconds left in Tuesday’s game, Gudas received a minor penalty while the Flyers were already killing a penalty. Kucherov shoved Gudas with his stick, and Gudas retaliated with a high stick to Kucherov’s helmet.
In its statement, the NHL said, “While we agree with Gudas’ assertion that this slash is not excessively forceful or violent, this is an intentional play by Gudas.”
The league said Gudas’ disciplinary history played a part in the latest suspension, noting he was suspended 10 games in 2017 for slashing his stick at Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault.
Based on his salary, Gudas will forfeit nearly $82,000 for the latest suspension.
The Flyers do not intend to appeal the suspension, general manager Chuck Fletcher said.
After Tuesday’s loss, Flyers interim coach Scott Gordon called the Gudas incident a “pretty soft stick to the helmet. There was no chance of injury. It wasn’t like it was vicious. There was no intent there like we saw a week ago.”
He was referring to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin’s baseball-like swing at Michael Raffl.
Malkin didn’t connect with the swing, and he was suspended one game.