After last night’s game at the TD Garden in Boston, while the Tampa Bay Lightning head back to the Tampa Bay Times Forum for their final game of the year against the in-state rival Florida Panthers, both Lightning right wing Richard Panik and defenseman Radko Gudas will head back to Syracuse to rejoin the Lightning’s AHL affiliate Syracuse Crunch as they make their run at the AHL playoffs.
Both Panik and Gudas were brought up to the Lightning’s main roster after the team was plagued with a number of injuries during the season.
Richard Panik played in 25 games for the Lightning this season. The 6’1 Martin, Slovakia native scored 5 goals, one being a game winner, and 4 assists in that time for a total of 9 points. While with the Crunch, the right winger played in 51 games, scoring 22 goals and earning 19 assists for a 41 point season; all this to go along with his plus-17 rating.
While with the Bolts this season, Radko Gudas played a total of 21 games netting 2 goals and earning 3 assists for a total of 5 points along with a plus-3 rating. In his time with the Crunch, he played in 57 games, scoring 4 goals and earning 16 assists for a total of 20 points to go with his plus-32 rating.
Gudas also leads the Crunch in penalty minutes with a whopping 207 minutes.
Gudas has made himself a household name since being brought up to the Lightning roster.
In fact, he is probably one of the only players to have a Twitter account dedicated to his beard before joining twitter himself. Hashtags like #FearTheBeard have become commonplace in the Twitterverse.
I assure you, while these two will be sorely missed as the Lightning season comes to a close this Saturday, our pain will not be in vain. The Crunch’s trek through the playoffs, and possibly all the way to the Calder Cup is a great experience for both Gudas and Panik. It will give them the opportunity to play in some high octane games that will help them be ready when the times comes for next season to start.
Will we see either of these young stars on the Lightning’s main roster next season? No one knows for sure. But I can assure you that with the time they are spending with the Crunch, they will certainly be prepared.
The Crunch finished the season ranked third in the Eastern Conference. They will face their first opponents this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Their first series will be against the sixth seeded Portland Pirates, the AHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes.
We here at Bolts By The Bay wish the Syracuse Crunch the best of luck in their quest for the Calder Cup. I assure you that all of us here in the Bolts Nation will be cheering for you. Whether it is in the stands in Syracuse or from the comfort of our living rooms, we will always be your thunder.