Sergei Kostitsyn

Sergei Kostitsyn says Preds were “too tough” on his brother and Radulov


After staying silent about the suspensions given to his brother and Alex Radulov, Sergei Kostitsyn has spoken publicly about the incident.

From Puck Daddy’s Dmitry Chesnokov, here’s Kostitsyn discussing the situation to Belorussian news outlet Pressball:

“I think the management was too tough on Alexander and Andrei. The punishment for the incident could have been a monetary fine, [they] went too far with the disqualification in the midst of an important stage of the playoffs. We missed the guys in games three and four of the series.”

In light of this, it’ll be interesting to see what Nashville does with the Kostitsyns. There are those that figure Andrei isn’t worth the headache and the Preds would be wise to walk away.

But what about Sergei?

The 24-year-old has enjoyed the best success of his career in Nashville and finished this season with 43 points and 16:28 average TOI, a personal high (he also led the Preds in scoring in 2010-11.) The Kostitsyn-Erat-Fisher line was arguably Nashville’s best throughout this year.

Now, do keep in mind that Kostitsyn’s comments — while questionable — are hardly grounds for divorce. Players have said far worse about their organizations and managed to stick around. And hey, if worst comes to worst, he can always play the “lost in translation” card.

That said, there’s the added acrimony of the whole “you suspended my brother” thing, especially if Sergei thinks the suspension was too harsh.

Related: An interesting tidbit from the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson.

While some suggest that Alex Radulov’s party-boy antics off the ice will be forgotten at contract time and they’ll gladly let Andrei Kostitsyn walk as an unrestricted free-agent, one source says both guys have torched the bridge in Nashville. They figure Craig Smith can take AK47’s (sic) spot. They’ll trade Radulov’s rights. One interesting sidelight: Kostitsyn’s brother wasn’t out on the town with his brother because Martin Erat, Sergei’s linemate was keeping an eye on him.

Erat: Good linemate, better babysitter.

Here’s hoping 3-on-3 doesn’t degenerate into a boring ‘game of keep-away’?

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Are coaches going to ruin 3-on-3 overtime?

It’s been the one, big worry since the NHL decided to change from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3 as a way to reduce the number of shootouts.

Via TSN’s Bob McKenzie, here’s a quote from an anonymous coach (talking about 3-on-3 strategy) that won’t exactly quell that worry:

“Really, it’s a game of keep-away, that’s what it is and the longer you can keep it away from the other team, the more likely they’ll break down. So I say let’s slow it down and hold onto that puck for as long as we can.”

Now take that a step further and imagine there’s a team that’s really good at shootouts. If you were coaching that team, might you tell your players to rag the puck for as long as possible to try and get to the skills competition?

Granted, five minutes is a long time to rag the puck. Not sure any team could play “keep-away” that long. Plus, there will always be teams that aren’t very good at the shootout; theoretically, those teams should be more willing to take their chances in 3-on-3.

But just remember that more time and space doesn’t always lead to more goals. Look at international hockey, which is played on a bigger ice surface. Canada won gold in Sochi by beating Latvia, 2-1, the United States, 1-0, and Sweden, 3-0. It was hardly firewagon hockey.

While nobody’s quite ready to suggest that 3-on-3 will actually lead to more shootouts, it will be interesting to see how things evolve, and if there are any unintended consequences.

“I don’t know if anyone’s figured it out completely yet,” Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said Saturday after losing in 3-on-3 overtime to Vancouver.

“The big thing is, you want to control the puck as much as you can. It’s 3-on-3, so there’s lots of room and space out there. You don’t need to give it away. I think it’s smart to just wait, take your time, and wait for a good opportunity.”

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.