Shortly after skating on a “scratch line” with Craig Smith and fellow curfew-breaker Andrei Kostitsyn, Predators forward Alex Radulov said he’s unsure if he’ll play Game 4 on Friday.
According to TSN’s Katherine Dolan, Radulov said he doesn’t know his status but won’t ask to return to the lineup — instead, he says he’ll leave that decision up to the coaches.
This uncertainty echos what Predators head coach Barry Trotz said on Thursday — he wasn’t sure about lineup changes, but commented “I know it’s going to be tough if I do [change] anything.”
Okay, so there are three major issues facing Nashville right now:
1. Despite the fact they’ve both been shamed publicly, Radulov and Kostitsyn haven’t offered up much in the way of apology. Radulov stumbled through a mea culpa (including the “I didn’t come back that late” line) while Kostitsyn said nothing.
Tried to make contact Tuesday with some former players to ask if they’d come across anything like this. There were three common threads. First, was the apology heartfelt? Second, was this a first-time offence or repeat behaviour? Third, how important was the situation?
The answers are 1) Not publicly, 2) Don’t know, and 3) Pretty Freaking Important.
Win or lose, can Barry Trotz afford to play them again?
2. The guys that drew in (Jordin Tootoo and Matt Halischuk) really contributed to the return to “Predator hockey”. Tootoo led all skaters with five hits, Halischuk had two takeaways, a hit and a blocked shot.
3. Trotz could lose both guys if he keeps holding them out. Say what you will about Radulov’s sloth like performance in Games 1 and 2, but don’t forget he led Nashville with five points in five games during the first-round ouster of Detroit. And for all of Kostitsyn’s flaws, he can still put the puck in the net.
If the Preds eventually needs an injection of offense — and based on their postseason history, they will — they won’t want Radulov or Kostitsyn frozen out.