Tampa Bay Lightning: 50 Greatest Moments In Franchise History

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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

35. Kristers Gudlevskis Kills It At the 2014 Winter Olympic Games

Date: February 19, 2014

The Tampa Bay Lightning has a long history of having issues in one particular area of the game, the space between the goal posts. In the 2012-13 season the Tampa Bay Lightning made a bold move by trading one of their best rookie players, Cory Conacher, along with fourth round draft pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for goaltender Ben Bishop.

While we may have questioned this trade initially, Ben Bishop has proved us wrong on so many levels and proved the Tampa Bay Lightning most definitely for the more advantageous side of this trade. Now, the Tampa Bay Lightning has just one more task in front of them; the Bolts needed to find a goaltender who could serve side by side with Bishop in the net.

In the 2012 NHL Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning acquired goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy. For the next two seasons, Vasilevskiy played in the Kontinental Hockey League with the Salavat Yulayev and the Tolpar UFA Jr. In the 2014-15 season Vasilevskiy would make the jump to North America and play with the Tampa Bay Lightning’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch.

With Vasilevskiy fast tracked to be the Lightning’s next big thing in the net, it was on Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman to make the necessary moves to secure the Tampa Bay Lightning’s future between the pipes. This is where Kristers Gudlevskis comes into play.

Kristers Gudlevskis was originally drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Fifth Round (124th Overall) in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The very next season, Gudlevskis would make his way to the Syracuse Crunch. Ironically enough, this was just one of the many steps he would take in order to make history in his first season as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In the 2013-14 season, Gudlevskis became one of the first goaltenders in franchise history to play for the Lightning’s ECHL affiliate, the Florida Everblades, the Lightning’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, and the Lightning’s main roster in the first season. Little did Gudlevskis know, this was just the first step he would take to being recognized on a much larger scale.

Every four years, a little thing called the Winter Olympic Games comes along. It just so happens that 2014 was that year. This meant athletes from all manner of sports would make their way to Sochi, Russia to represent their countries in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games.

One of the many players on the Lightning’s roster who would be making their way to Sochi was goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis. Gudlevskis would represent his native Latvia in the games. While we initially had our reservations about Gudlevskis when we first laid our eyes on him, Gudlevskis definitely went above and beyond to prove he more than belonged here in the Bolts Nation.

In the Quarter Final Round, Team Latvia would come up against a pretty tough opponent, Sidney Crosby and Gold Medal hopefuls Team Canada. The Latvians knew it was going to be a tough game, but there was one player on the team that truly kept the Latvians in the game.

While Team Canada may have walked away with the win, Gudlevskis put on one of the most amazing performances we have ever seen. Gudlevskis definitely had to work for every single advantage in this game. Kristers Gudlevskis faced a total of 57 shots in this encounter. This is almost double the amount of shots your average goaltender in the National Hockey League faces on any given night.

Out of those 57 shots Gudlevskis faced, only two of those made their way into the back of the net. This means Gudlevskis earned himself a Save Percentage of .965 against one of the highest powered offenses in the world. Kristers Gudlevskis definitely made a statement with his performance.

While it may be a little while before we see Gudlevskis here on the main roster long-term, he has definitely proven he has what it takes to get the job done when his time comes. This defining moment in his career helped solidify this in the minds and hearts of everyone in the Bolts Nation.

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