March 29, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; New Jersey Devils right wing Tom Kostopoulos (25) and Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas (75) fight during the first period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Radko Gudas: Fear The Beard

Twenty-three year-old Czech defenseman Radko Gudas has been an energetic presence on the ice and a source of fear for his opponents throughout his rise to the professional ranks.

Arriving on the scene in Tampa Bay midway through the abbreviated 2013 regular-season, Gudas played some very important minutes for the Lightning down the stretch.

Logical thinking suggests that Gudas will continue to positively impact the Lightning’s defensive game in the years to come. It is rare that a player under six feet tall fills the shoes of a tough guy in the modern-day NHL, but Gudas willingly dishes out punishing hits and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves when necessary.

Opposing players know that there will be repercussions for their questionable play once Radko comes over the boards, and the bearded bandit has no problem throwing his 190-pound frame against some of the biggest behemoths in the league.

Gudas played in 57 games this past season for the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, and he was essentially the centerpiece of a Calder Cup finalist.

The Lightning were strong statistically but weak in the standings throughout the shortened 2013 season. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos were #1 and #2 in the entire NHL in scoring in the 2013 regular season, and the duo embarrassed many opposing defenders who stood in between them and the back of the net.

Amazingly, their exploits amounted to only 18 wins, which earned Tampa Bay a second-to-last ranking in the Eastern Conference. The team is clearly in need of defensive muscle and consistency, and they will likely get both in spades from Gudas and his “Fear the Beard” approach to the game.

What impact do you think Radko Gudas will have on the success of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the upcoming season? Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts.

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Tags: Lightning Martin St Louis Radko Gudas Steven Stamkos Syracuse Crunch

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