Alexander Radulov

Radulov says he has something to prove…to himself

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Whatever the future has in store for Alex Radulov, public relations probably isn’t it.

After learning he and Andrei Kostitsyn would return to the Nashville Predators lineup after a two-game exile, the Russian forward told reporters he’d be playing Game 5 with a purpose.

What kind of purpose, you ask?

“I have something to prove,” Radulov told The Tennessean. “Not to you guys or to somebody, first of all it’s to myself and that’s about it.”

Two ways to look at this.

One, Radulov’s determined, focused and wants to make a difference tonight. As The Tennessean’s Josh Coooper writes, “There are times when you can tell a player is ready for a game or a moment. [Radulov] appeared to have that type of swagger.”

Two, this is just the latest example of the “me-first” mentality Radulov’s shown throughout the series (and his entire Nashville career, some would argue.)

After getting busted for breaking curfew and costing his team at a critical point in the season, Radulov wasn’t exactly the most remorseful guy on earth.

His statement…

“Yeah. I didn’t come back that late – the same. But like I said before, I don’t want to talk about it. They did what they have to do. I’m good with that. I’m disappointed and understand what is my mistake. I really hope that everything is going to work out for our team better and if I get a chance to play again, maybe in the future, I’ll do what it will take to help the team to win and basically that is it.”

That quote (and lack of proper public apology from him and Kostitsyn) led CBC’s Elliotte Friedman to write the following:

Here is what both should have apologized for:

Blowing curfew the night before a PLAYOFF game, especially after their team was already behind in the series;

Playing horribly after it occurred;

Embarrassing a GM who did everything you wanted and took a lot of heat for it (Radulov), traded for you (Kostitsyn) and a coach who sat out valued players to make room;

Finally, letting down teammates who’ve never had a better shot at winning the Stanley Cup.

The bright side is that, on Saturday, Preds head coach Barry Trotz shrewdly told Radulov and Kostitsyn of their return to the lineup. That allowed the pair a couple of days to mentally prepare for action.

“I just told them, ‘You’re back in. You can make a difference. It’s not going to be easy and people aren’t going to let you off the hook. You’re going to be judged, you’re going to be weighed, all those things,'” said Trotz. “I needed to tell them early so they could get in the right frame of mind.”

Can’t wait to see if it works.

Stars, Rangers do their Caps – Pens impression in wild win for Dallas

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If you watched only Tuesday’s Dallas Stars – New York Rangers game and yesterday’s manic Washington Capitals contest, you might believe that you were transported to the days of the 1988 Smythe Division.

Just ask Justin Williams.

That Penguins – Capitals game ended with an 8-7 overtime victory for Pittsburgh, while tonight’s 7-6 win for the Stars against the Rangers wasn’t far behind.

All the goals

Henrik Lundqvist gave up seven goals, eventually giving way to Magnus Hellberg in the third period. It’s been a rough go of things lately for the future Hall of Famer, with tonight marking the low point.

The Stars opened up leads of 3-1 in the first period and 7-3 through the first two frames, but as you can guess from the score, the Rangers stormed back with three goals in a surprisingly tight third period.

Kari Lehtonen saved the day for the Stars, stopping 12 of 12 after taking over about halfway through the third for Antti Niemi.

Much like with the Penguins – Capitals clash, it was about more than just seeing a lot of goals.

More than just a high-scoring game

Cody Eakin and Chris Kreider were in the thick of things. Eakin scored his first goal of 2016-17, a 7-3 tally that absurdly ended up being the game-winner. Kreider began the Rangers’ rally with his 18th goal of the season, hit Eakin with his own helmet during a fight and created his typical brand of chaos.

As much as this might sting the Rangers, and as concerned as they may be about Lundqvist’s play, at least it looks like Ryan McDonagh avoided injury despite this scary fall:

OK, so these four teams dropped the gauntlet for wild games this week. Who’s going to carry the torch on Wednesday?

Report: Islanders granted permission to interview Gerard Gallant

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 29:  Head coach Gerard Gallant of the Florida Panthers speaks during Media Day for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Gerard Gallant might not go long between head coaching gigs.

The New York Islanders have received permission to speak with Gallant, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Gallant was an assistant coach with the Islanders from 2007 to 2009, so there’s some familiarity there with GM Garth Snow (it was early on in his reign). Gallant was unceremoniously fired by the Florida Panthers in late November, with plenty of rumors circulating that he didn’t jive well with the franchise’s analytics-driven mindset. Gallant denied those claims, for whatever that’s worth.

(If such rumblings are true, perhaps Gallant would agree with the questionable logic of giving limited, but heavy-hitting forward Cal Clutterbuck a contract extension. That would be an interesting question to ask him during an interview, eh?)

Doug Weight is currently considered the Islanders interim head coach after the firing of Jack Capuano.

About the only bummer for everyone outside of Weight is that the Islanders already played their three games against the Panthers this season, so we’d have to wait until 2017-18 for whatever drama would come of that.

Robin Lehner’s furious anger seemingly directed at Sabres after being pulled

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Update: There’s now full video to get a better sense of Robin Lehner‘s behavior.

The Maple Leafs ended up beating the Sabres 4-3 after Buffalo made the game awfully interesting.

***

Late last season, Ben Scrivens expressed relief in avoiding a fight with Robin Lehner, the Buffalo Sabres goalie he called “a bit of a psycho.” It sure seemed like the Sabres were the target of his frightening anger on Tuesday.

Lehner really didn’t seem too happy after being pulled from the game, whether that anger was directed at Dan Bylsma, his Sabres teammates or … everyone?

Watch him rage out after getting the hook following Toronto’s three-goal outburst in about nine minutes:

/Cowers in fear.

Onlookers seem to believe that the tension was real.

Raise your hand if you wouldn’t want to be around Lehner right now. Here’s the impressive Auston Matthews 3-2 goal that ended his night early:

Jared Spurgeon shows he has hands like a surgeon (Video)

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Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon has a pretty good knack for scoring goals, especially considering the fact that he doesn’t always take a ton of shots.

Maybe Bruce Boudreau should consider asking him to fire away a little more often.

You won’t see many prettier examples of hand-eye coordination than Spurgeon’s power-play goal from Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils, which gave the Wild a 1-0 lead. Watch it in the video above.

It’s almost impressive enough to justify rhyming his last name with surgeon. You know, theoretically.