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Radko Gudas gets away with hit on Scottie Upshall

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The Lightning defenseman continues to avoid being suspended despite a growing record of iffy hits.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas got away with one.

Thursday night during the second period of the Lightning's 3-2 win against the Florida Panthers, Gudas hit Panthers forward Scottie Upshall with a forearm shiver to the head. Upshall dropped to the ice and was helped off while Gudas was not penalized for the play. Upshall returned to the game in the third period.

The NHL decided not to punish Gudas for the play and gave him a phone call to tell him he's close to crossing the line. The Department of Player Safety explained it all on Twitter:

Some of this makes good sense in explaining what happened on a bang-bang play. What's not explained is how Gudas appears to stick out his forearm and elbow to make violent contact with Upshall's head.

Yes, Upshall has his head down and the DOPS explanation puts the blame on the hit for that, but Gudas is seemingly absolved of any wrong-doing and there's something that feels a bit uncomfortable about that.

The assumption that appears to be made is that a hit would've been made no matter what and that it's up to Upshall to not make himself vulnerable. That part of it makes it similar to the play in which Matt Niskanen hit Jeff Skinner and gave the Carolina Hurricanes star yet another concussion, albeit that was a more bad timing than anything. Had Skinner not turned his head so quickly, Niskanen hits him in the back.

This play though? It seems a lot different and it's not as if Gudas has a spotless track record when it comes to questionable hits. Take this hit against Dallas Stars forward Antoine Roussel that resulted in a match penalty.

Then add in this tidbit from Arthur Staple of Newsday.

While Gudas has never been suspended and the league has now told him he's close to crossing the line, the argument is easy to make that he may have already done that.