Philadelphia Flyers D Radko Gudas is on an unlikely goal streak, but he’s such a shot engine that they were going to go in sooner or later.
From afar, Radko Gudas might seem like an obsolete player. A big, strong, intimidating, and relatively slow defenseman, he is so old fashioned as to be borderline antiquated. The trend of the league has moved distinctly towards defense who skate effortlessly and sport the skills typically associated with playing a possession game.
Such a dismissal would be missing some important details. Most hockey fans, even big Philadelphia Flyers, might be missing how much of an overall force Gudas has been on the Flyers blue line.
Big, slow defensemen who can’t carry the puck are not supposed to be strong in the possession game. Ask Luke Schenn about that one. Gudas is bucking that trend.
Corsi statistics is the main current method to measure possession. For those not familiar with it, it measures how many shots each team is attempting while any given player is on the ice to paint a picture of which team holds the puck, and at which end of the rink the play is predominantly occurring.
By essentially every Corsi angle, Gudas is leading the Flyers. He’s first in rate of shots for, and second in limiting the rate of shots against. Obviously this will give him the best percentage of shots for/against as well.
Some of this possession comes from Gudas’ eagerness to shoot himself.
Gudas is, in fact, one of the most frequent shooters in the league. For the season, he’s the 7th most prolific shooting defensemen in the league with 6.24 shots for every 60 minutes he’s on the ice during 5v5 play.
The strategy of just letting it fly probably isn’t the best plan for every player, but it’s a sound strategy for Gudas. He doesn’t have the puck skills or the feet to carry the puck like a Shayne Gostisbehere, so moving the puck off his stick and toward the goal is an effective play. Furthermore, his shot is a cannon.
In the offseason, Gudas’ slapshot was clocked at over 100 miles per hour. Steve Mason has also talked about Gudas’ ferocious shot.
“He’s got the hardest shot I’ve ever faced. [Michal Neuvirth] and I have asked him to take a little off his shots in practice because it hurts when it hits you. … Heavy, fast, hard [shot]. It just hits you with a thud. That’s why we’ve asked him to take a little off in practice, because he can break your hand pretty easy”
Considering all this information, it’s almost more of a surprise that Gudas wasn’t scoring. Either way, Gudas finally broke through in highlight reel fashion, blasting one from the red line off the post and in.
Now the puck is continuing to go in for him. Admittedly there’s been something fluky about all 4 of his recent goals, but when you put as much rubber on the net as he does, and you shoot that hard, you will be rewarded sooner or later.
For my money, Radko Gudas has been the most interesting player on the Philadelphia Flyers this year. And this post doesn’t even mention the fact that’s second among all NHL defensemen in hits, many of which could be described as huge, and some of which could be described as illegal or dirty!
It all adds up to a unique player. A unique player who is making less than $1 million this year, and who needs a new contract this offseason. The Flyers might want to give him a short term deal to see if this is the kind of thing Gudas can do long term, because it’s been a heck of season for him this year.