Grades for Every Tampa Bay Lightning at the 2014 Winter Olympics So Far
The break in the NHL action hasn’t stopped Tampa Bay Lightning fans from watching a handful of their players compete at a high level. The group of Lightning players playing in Sochi has helped ease the hockey withdrawal symptoms.
Olympic preliminary competition ended on Feb. 16, and with the final seeds established, Lightning fans should get to watch at least one of their players compete into the medal rounds. Tampa Bay doesn’t have anyone on the top-two seeded teams (Sweden, USA), but it does have players on third-seeded Canada and fourth-seeded Finland.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a great international showing for the Bolts. As we prepare for the elimination games, here are the individual grades for each Lightning player at the Olympics so far.
All stats via IIHF.com.
Ondrej Palat: C-
Ondrej Palat has been largely unheard of in the preliminary round. He has just one shot on goal in the three games and has just over 26 minutes of ice time.
He could have used the minutes against some of the world’s best to his advantage, but instead, he has been demoted to a fill-in forward. His 8:44 of ice time per game is second to last on the team among forwards.
Palat hasn’t done much to help the struggling Czech offense.
Radko Gudas: D+
Radko Gudas played in just one of the three preliminary games. Whether it was as a healthy or unhealthy scratch, Gudas didn’t do much in his one appearance to warrant much additional time.
He played in just under 18 minutes against Switzerland and took two penalties—a theme Lightning fans are used to. Hopefully the young defenseman is over his illness and can be more effective during the elimination rounds.
The Czech team didn’t have a strong showing with just one win and two losses while being outscored 7-6. It faces Slovakia on Feb. 18.
Kristers Gudlevskis: C
Latvia wasn’t expected to make much noise in the tournament, but going 0-3 and being outscored 10-5 isn’t pretty. Goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis made just one start in the preliminary rounds. He lost 5-3 to top-seeded Sweden.
It was a 4-3 game with less than 10 minutes to play in the third period, so Gudlevskis gave his team a chance to win. Unfortunately, he was unable to make the big saves when needed and the Swedes swept the group.
Gudlevskis made 25 saves on 30 shots.
Latvia’s next opponent is Switzerland on Feb. 18. Switzerland beat Latvia 1-0 in group play—Gudlevskis didn’t play.
Sami Salo: B+
Sami Salo has been a sturdy defenseman for the Lightning this season, and he has continued that at the Olympics. His numbers won’t be eye-popping, but he has helped anchor a blue line that has been solid in group play.
Salo has one assist but is a solid plus-three rating. He has recorded over 15 minutes on ice per game—third on the team for defensemen.
He helped Finland to an opening-round bye that will face the winner of Russia and Norway.
Richard Panik: C-
Richard Panik has followed in the footsteps of fellow Lightning player Palat. He has just one shot on goal through three games while recording just over 11 minutes of ice time per game.
Panik is an unfortunate minus-two rating, but Slovakia hasn’t played well as a team either. It will try to continue to right the ship after giving up seven goals to the United States in the first game of group play.
Slovakia faces the Czech Republic on Feb. 18 in a battle of three Lightning players.
Martin St. Louis: C
It seems a bit unreal to give someone as decorated as Martin St. Louis such an average grade. However, due to the nature of the Olympics level of play, St. Louis has been just average so far.
He was scratched for the group-clinching win over Finland and has no points in two games played. He isn’t being relied on much to score with players like Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and Jeff Carter shouldering a large load so far.
That is a bit of the nature of the beast playing for such a talented squad like Canada. Most of the players on Canada have been average so far, but that has been good enough to go undefeated.
St. Louis does have a plus-one rating and five shots on goal so far.
Canada is the third seed and will face the winner of Switzerland and Latvia.