After slashing Winnipeg Jets forward Mathieu Perrault in the back of the head, Radko Gudas found himself in the bad graces of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety once again.
Gudas will be serving a 10-game suspension starting Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks and with Andrew MacDonald still out we are going to see a different Flyers defense for the next 12% of the season. As of right now the Flyers have three rookie defensemen in their lineup with Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Mark Alt.
There could be another call-up in the near future with the intensity that Gudas brings out of the lineup for the next ten games. That would be Samuel Morin. It would not be surprising to see Morin get the call if the Flyers find themselves in some games where they need a little extra ferocity.
In addition to another call-up, I would expect to see Sanheim get some more time on the penalty kill. Sanheim, while not scoring at the same rate in the NHL as he did in the AHL and Juniors, he has been playing extremely sound defensive hockey. The Flyers will need him to continue to play well in his own end in the absence of Gudas.
Shayne Gostisbehere will also more than likely to see a slight increase in ice-time. I would not expect him to get any time on the Penalty Kill, but chances are he will see more time at even strength to make up for the loss of Gudas. Ghost is already seeing about 22 minutes a night the Flyers will lean on him to continue to play well defensively.
While it may be harder for the Flyers to lean even more in Ivan Provorov, who is averaging nearly 25 minutes a game as a 20-year old, will probably see an increase in ice time over the next ten games. It is possible that Dave Hakstol and the rest of the Flyers coaching staff will run five defensemen actively and have the sixth go in there when Provorov needs a break.
The Flyers defense has been broken down at this point in the season missing two starters from the opening night roster. Right now they will be running a top six of Provorov, Gostisbehere, Sanheim, Hagg, Manning, and Alt, we will probably be seeing a call up before the game Tuesday night.
Gudas is really going to have to watch himself moving forward, the next suspension could result in 20 or more games depending on the infraction, and at that point the Flyers may decide he isn’t worth the hassle.
In good news, and yes I can’t believe I am saying that with what will follow, Andrew MacDonald will probably make his return this week. He did not practice with the starters tonight but is extremely close to returning. The Flyers are 3-5 since MacDonald went down and 5-3 with him in the lineup, seems like he really holds the team together.
The loss of Gudas hurts the Flyers but getting MacDonald back will certainly lighten the blow, especially if the call up Morin to fill the aggression lost by the Gudas suspension.