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Tampa Bay Lightning recall Syracuse Crunch players, yet make preparations for the Olympic Break

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The Bolts give Vladislave Namestnikov the opportunity to make his NHL debut before the NHL shuts down for two weeks.

Photo provided by Scott Thomas and used with permission

Friday saw the Tampa Bay Lightning start making preparations for life during the Olympic break as well as out of immediate necessity with one player placed on waivers and another two recalled from the Syracuse Crunch.

With Ben Bishop's injury and Anders Lindback out of action, the Bolts called up the Yak-man himself, Kristers Gudlevskis, to serve as Cedrick Desjardins backup on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings.  Kristers had become the de facto #1 goalie in Syracuse while Desjardins had served as Bishop's backup in Tampa.  Desjardins will undoubtedly return to Syracuse after Saturday's game and serve once again as the Crunch's top goalie, especially because Gudlevskis will be participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics for his native Latvia.

The other move out of need was to recall a center - though the Bolts managed to fill in for the injured Valtteri Filppula on the last game of their road trip without it.  Instead of having Nikita Kucherov play out of position, the Bolts decided to give former 1st round draft pick Vladislav Namestnikov an opportunity to make his NHL debut on Saturday.  Vladdy, who could assume the role of #2 or #3 center, is playing at just under a point-per-game pace in the AHL with 30 points in 31 games (13 goals, 17 assists).  He missed a good chunk of playing time in November and December with a broken hand.  Before that, and before the Lightning made recalls, he had been playing on a line that included Nikita Kucherov and J.T. Brown(ov) as Syracuse's top line center.

Vladdy was the Bolts top draft pick in the 2011 NHL draft, the year they were picking exceedingly late due to their success in the NHL playoffs.

The Lightning will also be returning defenseman J.P. Cote to the AHL, as he was placed on waivers at noon on Friday.  Cote has 4 assists in 19 games since his recall. Those 19 games are 13 more than he had ever played in the NHL up to this season.  He's played like a veteran in the Bolts back end.  He's an even plus/minus as well.