Radko Gudas

Samuel Morin recalled to Flyers, while Radko Gudas returns from 2-game suspension

Samuel Morin recalled to Flyers, while Radko Gudas returns from 2-game suspension

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers bolstered their blue line Monday and they didn’t have to complete a trade at the deadline to make it happen.

Defenseman Radko Gudas returned from a two-game suspension and 6-foot-7 Samuel Morin was recalled after playing two games with the Phantoms.

Gudas hasn’t played since performing a tomahawk chop over the helmet of Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov last Tuesday. Gudas was forced to miss Thursday’s game at Montreal and the Stadium Series game against Pittsburgh.

“I didn’t think [the two games] was unfair,” Gudas said. “It’s the league’s decision and I have a history. I barely had a hold of my stick and unfortunately I connected. It’s a fast game and I don’t really have an excuse for that. I didn’t think it was anything bad, just an accident. I explained that to the league, as well, and they gave me the two games.”

Gudas will be back in the lineup Tuesday against Buffalo and was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere during Monday’s practice. Morin practiced with his teammates but hasn’t been activated to the roster. He played two rehab games with the Phantoms and endured some cramping in his first game on Feb. 15.

“First period was awesome, but after that I was so tired and by the third period I couldn’t play anymore,” Morin said.

Morin’s second game came this past Friday against the Charlotte Checkers, a game in which he dropped the gloves with Checkers defenseman Josiah Didier.

“It was awesome,” Morin said. “I hadn’t dropped the gloves in a year and I was feeling good to get back at it. Obviously it was weird timing at the end of the game, but [Didier] was going hard at one of our best players. I was trying to defend him. That’s part of my job.”

It was Morin’s first game action since tearing his ACL in a playoff game last May.

At some point, interim head coach Scott Gordon will have to determine when to proceed with getting Morin and Philippe Myers into the Flyers' lineup. Both young defensemen are expected to be healthy scratches against the Sabres.

“The players are still looking at the playoffs. Whether we add a player or subtract a player, the goal hasn’t changed,” Gordon said. "It’s just a question of getting that experience here and where we’re at and what we do moving forward.”

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Flyers respond to Radko Gudas suspension; Philippe Myers to play a bigger role

Flyers respond to Radko Gudas suspension; Philippe Myers to play a bigger role

MONTREAL — Scott Gordon didn’t think Radko Gudas came down that hard on Nikita Kucherov and realizes the league could have come down a lot harder on Gudas.

“It certainly could have been worse,” the Flyers' interim head coach said Thursday. “You never know how it’s going to go. He did it and nobody got hurt obviously, but there’s some history there.” 

Gudas declined to comment on his recent two-game suspension, obviously displeased that he’ll also miss Saturday's Stadium Series game against the Penguins during a critical point of the Flyers' season (see story)

Thursday night marks the third game Gudas has missed. The physical, shot-blocking defenseman has been one of the Flyers' more consistent players on the blue line and Gordon admitted there’s some uncertainty among the Flyers' defense core without him.

“He’s played so well that he’s one guy I haven't had to worry about,” Gordon said. “He’s obviously a big loss for us and has played a lot of really good hockey for us.”

The Flyers are 12-2-1 in the five weeks since Gordon paired Gudas with Robert Hagg, which, in turn, has helped the Flyers stabilize the back end.

With Gudas’ suspension and the integration of 22-year-old Philippe Myers, Gordon has elected to shuffle up his blue line by pairing Hagg with Andrew MacDonald, a duo that spent the majority of last season together.  

That leaves Myers, playing in his second NHL game, looking to find some chemistry and cohesion with Shayne Gostisbehere. Give Gordon some credit for having the foresight to play Myers on Sunday in Detroit, which went a long way toward developing his comfortability for Thursday's game against the Canadiens.

“It’s huge for sure. I was a little nervous in that first game,” Myers said. “Those first couple of shifts I settled in a bit, but tonight I’m just going to focus in on my game and keep it simple.”

“I think he’s going to go into this game a lot more sure of himself,” Gordon said. “This is a great opportunity for him and I have no doubts that he’s going to do well.”

As the Flyers' seventh defenseman in that 3-1 win, Myers saw time with four different defensemen (see story). Against Montreal, he’ll be paired mainly with Gostisbehere. They took three shifts together in Myers' debut, but still, there’s some unfamiliarity that exists between them.

“We had a little chat after morning skate and we’ll try and talk a lot out there,” Myers said. “We’re two good players and we’re going to try and make plays out there, keep it simple and play our game.”

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Flyers' Radko Gudas receives 2-game suspension, opening door for Philippe Myers

Flyers' Radko Gudas receives 2-game suspension, opening door for Philippe Myers

Radko Gudas was burned by his reputation Wednesday and it will cost him from playing in two of the Flyers' biggest games this season.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety handed down a two-game suspension for Gudas' high-sticking infraction to the head of Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov during the third period of the Flyers' 5-2 loss Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.

Gudas is classified as a repeat offender under the terms of the CBA and his history of such penalties bit him in this circumstance, as he'll miss Thursday's road game against the Canadiens and Saturday's Stadium Series game against the Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field. 

On top of the suspension, the Flyers' defenseman will also forfeit $81,707.32.

Here was the review and reasoning behind the decision from the NHL's Department of Player Safety:

While we agree with Gudas' assertion that this slash is not excessively forceful or violent, this is an intentional play by Gudas. A player who intentionally brings his stick down onto the head of an opponent with a two-handed slashing motion can expect to be penalized by the on-ice officials and, in most cases, be met with some form of supplemental discipline be it a warning, a fine or a suspension.

What causes this play to rise to the level of a suspension is Gudas' disciplinary history, specifically his history of similar behavior.

Prior to this incident, Gudas had been hit with suspensions of 10 games (2017-18), six games (2016-17) and three games (2015-16).

The 28-year-old has cleaned up his play significantly this season, becoming one of the Flyers' most reliable defensemen. Gudas owns a team-best plus-12 rating and his penalties have been down compared to years past. He also plays the Flyers' second-most penalty-kill minutes (159:16), while leading the team in hits (197) and blocking the third-most shots (101).

His absence opens the door for 22-year-old prospect Philippe Myers, who has played just one NHL game — his debut last weekend. It marks a huge opportunity for Myers to prove himself to the coaching staff and general manager Chuck Fletcher.

"Phil Myers can help this team win right now, too," Fletcher said Feb. 9.

"He's still a young man and really, his key time will be next year at training camp and earning a full-time spot for a full season. But right now, if we can get him some experience, practice seems great, being around the team is great, if he can get some games, that'll only help him as he prepares for next year."

The Flyers entered Wednesday six points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot with 22 games remaining. Two teams they're chasing in the playoff hunt are the Canadiens and Penguins, both of whom have 71 points compared to the Flyers' 63.

Meanwhile, Gudas wasn't the Flyers' only defenseman in trouble Wednesday. Robert Hagg was fined $3,091.40 for interference on Cedric Paquette during Tuesday's game.

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