Predators Player Suspension Should Be Over

Article Thumbnail

By Dave Cunning

Well, the Predators unquestionably have to play their Russian curfew breakers for game five.



BetOnHockey_Predators_Radulov.jpgI thought Nashville’s head coach Barry Trotz made the right decision by suspending Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for game three of their series with Phoenix after they violated team rules. Exact details on what they did are hazy and speculative at best, but clearly there was enough evidence for the coaching staff to make the call to scratch them, and they rightfully did. If these sort of rules aren’t enforced, and especially if “stars” are given immunity to them while others aren’t, the inmates begin to run the asylum pretty quickly on a hockey team – absolute poison when you need a team mentality and everyone on the same page to go all the way in the Stanley Cup playoffs; or any playoffs for that matter. So sit they did. And after losing the first two games to the Coyotes, win the Predators finally did.

This was a lose-lose situation for both players – if the Predators had lost game three, it may have made the decision to sit them look like an error, but the team loses, and every one on that team is mad at them for handicapping them when they badly need offence because they chose to be selfish and put themselves ahead of the team one night. If they win, it makes two supposedly star players look expendable, and not all the necessary to have for the team to win.

So after the victory, they got sat again.

That had to be an even tougher decision for Trotz, but one I don’t really argue with either. The fact is that as soon as those two players were deleted from the lineup, the team had success. And in a situation such as the playoffs where success is absolutely crucial, how do you argue with a lineup that brought it to you? Game three seemed like a major pull-together-as-a-team game for Nashville – shutting out Phoenix 2-0; as Rinne let nothing by him after giving up nine goals after the first two games, and five Predators players recorded points. 

BetOnHockey_Predators_Kostitsyn.jpgThe problem was the game four’s follow up – Rinne only let one in, but Nashville didn’t score a single goal. That’s the exact scenario when you wonder what the score would have been if a team’s leading scorer (still Radulov, despite missing two games – 7 games, 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points) and their fourth leading scorer (Kostitsyn – 7 games, 3 goals, 1 assist, 4 points) were written into their lineup. And it’s very possible that the rest of the Predators are wondering that too, and again wishing that two of their offensive studs hadn’t put themselves over them that night. And it's also possible that the players thought their coach made a stupid decision for not activating them again, and were less inclined to listen to Trotz -- also bad for team morale. 

They probably missed Kostitsyn more so than Radulov – despite five points against Detroit, Radulov had only one assist in the two games he played against the Coyotes, and was a dismal -3. Kostitsyn on the other hand, scored two of his three playoff goals (team leader in goals) against Phoenix, and was a +1 through the first two games; and has steadily produced 2 points per series. Their replacements, Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo, did nothing of significance while standing in for the Russians for 17 minutes of ice over two games – Tootoo had two shots and 2 PIM, while Halischuk recorded zeroes across the board.

For the Predators to be successful again in this series, and consequently not be eliminated from the playoffs, they’re going to need to shake the mental distractions. There’s really no reason why Radulov and Kostitsyn should not be back in the lineup for game five (unless they have/had another curfew situation come up), so that should end that saga – and you know those two will have something to prove. If Nashville’s goaltending can remain solid, and have a fully charged offensive lineup added to it, I don’t see any reason why the Predators can’t win game 5.

That is unless Phoenix is hungrier. The Coyotes have never been in the second round before this year, and are aiming to win their first ever second round playoff series, and advance to their first ever conference final. If Nashville can claw back into this series and win, they’ll advance to the third round for the first time in franchise history, and go where no Predators team has gone before. One thing’s for certain – one of these two teams will make franchise history by the time this series concludes. For two teams that have been at the center of bankruptcy and relocation talks for years, it’s good to see them both having this level of on-ice success. Twitter: @davecunning Twitter: @CunningAthletix



Current game 5 odds have the Predators as underdogs.

Nashville Predators (-105) @ Phoenix Coytoes (-115)

NHL Betting Tip: Look for odds to change if Radulov and Kostitsyn are in the lineup. If betting on the Predators, bet early to get better odds on the moneyline.




blog comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe Here To Receive News, Updates
and Picks Sent Directly To Your Inbox
I agree to the .

Pick Archive




View all pro picks

Connect with