Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Peter Budaj is making his way back to the Bolts Nation after recovering from a Lower-Body Injury.
The Tampa Bay Lightning has dealt with quite a few injuries this season. It seems no matter how hard the Lightning tries to stay healthy, the injury bug is always looming in the distance. Unfortunately, so is the life of an athlete in a full-contact sport like hockey.
One of the players who has been bitten particularly hard by the dastardly injury bug this season is Lightning goaltender Peter Budaj. Budaj has been relegated to the sidelines since December 29 when he sustained a Lower-Body Injury in the Lightning’s 5-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
After missing a total of 22 games due to injury, the Lightning assigned Budaj to their American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, for a conditioning stint. During his time with the Crunch, Budaj played in two games between the pipes. During this time, he carried a 0-1-1 record.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Unfortunately, the 35-year-old netminder hasn’t exactly performed to his potential this season. In the seven games he’s played with the Bolts this season, he’s maintained a 3-3-1 record. While these are definitely not the most stellar, a certain amount of the reason for this has to deal directly with the lack of games he’s played.
It’s a simple fact of the matter the more games a player plays; the more comfortable a player is on the ice. When a player sits the bench for games on end and is suddenly thrust into the middle of fierce competition, you get a mixed bag of results. At the same time, a professional athlete has to be ready at all times, so there is a little responsibility to be had on both sides of this story.
The Lightning has some tough decisions to make now. The Bolts currently have three goaltenders on their roster. As the playoffs loom in the distance, it may be in the Lightning’s best interest to give Andrei Vasilevskiy some time off.
Louis Domingue has been solid for the Bolts this season, going 5-2-0 in the seven games he’s started this season. This begs the question where does Budaj fit into all of this? The truth of the matter is, no one knows at this point. The Bolts have plenty of possible scenarios they could go with, but at the end of the day, the final decision will come down to Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper.
Peter Budaj has a real opportunity in front of him right now. If the Lightning elects to rest Vasilevskiy a couple of games in between now and the start of the postseason, they will be looking for either Budaj, Domingue, or possibly both to be strong and continue to keep the Lightning on their winning path. If Budaj can hold strong and bring home some wins, he could turn his season around and turn a negative into a positive