BOSTON – The Bruins probably didn’t feel great about facing Flyers cheap shot-throwing defenseman Radko Gudas in their final game of the preseason, and with good reason as it turned out on Saturday night. The Philly defenseman delivered a late, high shoulder to the head of Austin Czarnik in the third period of Boston’s 1-0 overtime win against the Flyers at TD Garden.
Gudas served two minutes for a boarding call that could have been interference, for certainly an illegal check to the head. Czarnik was immediately helped to the Bruins dressing room following the nasty hit, and never returned to the game after putting together an impressive training camp that pretty much won him the third line center gig with the Black and Gold.
The NHL Department of Player Safety is reviewing the Gudas hit, according to a source, and one would expect that Gudas might be facing another suspension after getting off without punishment for a similarly nasty hit on Jimmy Vesey earlier in the preseason. Bruins winger Brad Marchand said he thought the hit was “dirty” following the game, and Claude Julien didn’t try to hide his distaste for a high hit that definitely could have been avoided.
“I just looked at [the hit]. There’s no update on [Czarnik]. We saw the shoulder to the head. Somehow he seems to have a knack of getting himself in trouble every game. I didn’t like the hit personally,” said Julien. “I thought it was a little bit late, and a shoulder to the head. It’s disappointing. Here’s a young player [in Czarnik] having a good camp and really playing well, and then he ends up with a hit like that in the last few minutes.”
Clearly part of the issue is a 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik is at a height where a 6-foot, 204-pound Gudas is going to probably catch him high moving in for a hard check, but the hit was late enough that it felt completely unnecessary after the puck had already left the area. Those are usually the kind of plays where the NHL comes in with supplementary discipline, particularly when it’s a repeat offender like Gudas, who was suspended three games last season for a head shot on Mika Zibanejad.