Artem Sergeev saw his opportunity and responded.
With three significant injuries to the Crunch blueline, Sergeev has thrived with increased ice time. The 20-year-old rookie defenseman has averaged close to 20 minutes a night and played in all situations, as Syracuse has gone 4-2 to snap out of a recent slide.
For Syracuse Crunch coach Rob Zettler, Sergeev has elevated his play in the last few weeks.
"I've really liked his physical play," Zettler said. "He's been smart. He uses his body well. He's a big, thick guy and he's strong. He's starting to understand how he can best use it to his advantage, and he's done that lately."
Even after one of the biggest performances of his young career, Kristers Gudlevskis tempered any excitement with perspective.
The Syracuse Crunch goalie made 55 saves, as Latvia nearly stunned Canada in the quarterfinals of the winter Olympics in Sochi late last month. The Herculean effort earned Gudlevskis praise worldwide.
But in his first practice back with the Crunch Tuesday, Gudlevskis was back to focusing on the task at hand.
"It was only one game," Gudlevskis said. "So I need to show everybody I'm really consistent every game all season long. I think only then I'm going to prove myself."
The BP Mailbag returns after its own Olympic break (the Games aren’t going to watch themselves and multi-tasking is a challenge when hockey is on).
The questions, please…
@BoltProspects Would you part with Namestnikov for a Dmen like Alex Edler #BPMailbag
The Canucks’ Alex Edler, a 27-year-old defenseman, is rumored to be on the trading block. With the trade deadline on Wednesday, speculation is picking up steam.
Edler fits a lot of criteria for what I think the Lightning should be looking for: 300-plus games played, puckmover, second-pair capable, and power play contributor.
He also has good size (6-3), which Yzerman likes in a defenseman. There are a lot of things to like.
We continue our Bolt Prospect of the Week award, an honor (virtually) given to one Tampa Bay Lightning prospect for their recent contributions on and off the ice.
The Prospect of the Week for February 25, 2014 is … Kristers Gudlevskis, G, Team Latvia (IIHF).
Kristers Gudlevskis cemented his place as our Bolt Prospect of the Week about halfway through the second period of Latvia’s Olympic quarterfinal game against the eventual Gold medalist, Canada.
When a goalie is “on,” he is said to be “standing on his head.” Gudlevskis was running a marathon on his head while juggling rusty chainsaws. His 55-save performance in a 2-1 loss was the talk of the latter half of the Olympics and the Lightning’s 2013 fifth round pick provided Canada its biggest scare of the medal round. Canadiens’ All-Star goalie Carey Price, who opposed Gudlevskis in net for Team Canada, called Gudlevskis’ performance the best he’d ever seen.
Compliments don’t come better than that.
Tanner Richard remembers the view of the bench as much as the goal.
After accepting a pass from Cedric Paquette on a 2-on-1 and burying it for his first professional goal last month, the Syracuse Crunch center felt joy and relief. It took 46 games, but the drought was over.
“It definitely took a while - a lot longer than I hoped for,” Richard said. “It was pretty special for me, because I don’t think I’ve ever seen a team so excited for a guy like that. After the first 20 games, everyone was pulling for me and trying to get me that goal.”
Like many players, Richard’s rookie season has been full of firsts.