Gudas showing Flyers the good in his game

There has been much talk of Radko Gudas these days and this time, it has shifted to the good he is doing on the ice. The Flyers defenseman has faced a season of ups and downs, overcoming the odds early — he was among the first to be on the healthy scratch list at the beginning of the season.

But since then, Gudas has turned into a more valuable piece for the Flyers of late, and could very well have some sort of future with the team while they wait for more of the defensive prospects to make the leap to the NHL. But it almost didn't turn out that way.

From the beginning, Gudas was really an undervalued player, sometimes for good reason. 

Acquired by Philadelphia in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Braydon Coburn, Gudas was essentially included as a side piece in the deal. At 6'0", 204 pounds, Gudas is a powerful hitter. As expected, when he first hit the ice in Philadelphia, he played with intensity and physicality, a welcome sight to Flyers fans.

But as the season progressed, his play became careless.

For a short while, he was criticized for useless penalties and fans were wondering about his value. Gudas took three match penalties over the course of nine games in a two-week span. That led to a sit down with head coach Dave Hakstol and general manager Ron Hextall that basically addressed this head on: clean it up and play smart or face the consequences.

Message received.

After that, Gudas was like another player. He seems like a player who has taken the negativity and turned it around with positive action. He is making legal hits, smart plays and displaying better positioning in the defensive zone. He has confidence and that is what is turning his play around. He can actually be seen as a leader as of late on the team with his attitude. He can be an asset in the rush to playoffs.

In the last five games, Gudas has averaged about 20 minutes on the ice. He also scored two goals and two assists in the game on March 5 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, a career game for him in the points column. He has a total of 10 points this season, not the best, but certainly improving and contributing in his own way.

He is involved in good plays, and this time of the season with the Flyers in dire straits of making playoffs, this thrust of energy from Gudas is needed, especially with Michael Del Zotto out with an injury.

As the hockey season winds down with 15 games left, the crunch to playoffs is of high importance. Consistency and smart play is a requirement for every player. For a while, it looked like Gudas would never get there. It's safe to say Flyers fans are glad he has proved them wrong with his recent play.

Denise Mroz is a contributing writer for Flyerdelphia. Follow her on Twitter @denisemroz10.

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