Will the Flyers get the good or the bad Radko Gudas when the rugged 27-year-old defenseman returns to the lineup Tuesday against Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center?
The good Gudas: a feisty player who delivers legal, crunching hits, clears the crease in front of his goalie, and provides veteran leadership for a young defense.
The bad Gudas: an undisciplined and reckless player — he just finished serving a 10-game suspension for slashing Winnipeg's Mathieu Perreault across the back of his neck last month — whose penalties give opponents too many power-play chances.
The Flyers went 3-3-4 during Gudas' suspension and allowed 3.50 goals per game. They have surrendered 2.71 goals in games he has played.
"We've missed him, for sure," general manger Ron Hextall said, adding Gudas has a "veteran presence, not only on the ice but off the ice and when guys go back to the bench."
Hextall said that some of the young players were "reeling a little bit" in a few games, and that Gudas "settles them down and gets their heads back on track."
Gudas, who lost nearly $409,000 in wages because of the suspension, was antsy while watching the last 10 games from the press box. The Flyers dropped the first seven of those games, extending their winless streak to 10 before going 3-0 in Western Canada.
As for the losing streak, Gudas said "it's always tough going through a stretch like that and knowing you can't do anything to help them out. That was the most frustrating part for me and I'm looking forward to getting back … against Toronto. I've got that one circled on my calendar."
Gudas has been practicing with the team and working out, and he was part of the traveling party during the 3-0 trek through Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. The wins followed a 10-game losing streak in which the Flyers went 0-5-5.
"I've been working on conditioning and helping the guys as much as I can, trying to maybe get the guys laughing a little during the tough stretch," he said. "Everything wasn't going our way, so you try to find anything that will help the guys maybe get a little better spirits."
Gudas said that after he hit the Jets' Perreault, he "right away told him I didn't mean to do it. It was an accident."
The one positive of the suspension, Gudas said, was he got to spend more time with his family. "They helped me get through it," he said.
Gudas, who has two assists, a plus-2 rating and 57 penalty minutes in 17 games, is expected to replace rookie Mark Alt in the lineup. Alt has played well, even earning ice time late in games…..The Flyers scored a 4-2 victory in Toronto on Oct. 28 as Val Filppula scored the game-winner and Gudas contributed five hits and an assist….The Flyers have allowed 43 five-on-five goals, the fewest in the NHL….Claude Giroux has 11 points in the last nine games; he has 12 goals overall, two shy of his total for last season.