As you may have all heard by now (yes, we are way behind on relaying this message), forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn have been suspended for Game 3 of the series between Nashville and Phoenix on Wednesday, after violating team rules late Saturday night/early Sunday morning.
General Manager David Poile laid the hammer down hard on the two Eastern European players, extending this message to both the press and public:
“The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things,” Poile said. “We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates.”
Per sources who know of the issues, Radulov and A. Kostitsyn were seen in Scottsdale, Arizona (about 45 minutes away from Glendale, AZ) at a bar and were there as late as 4AM. The team has a strict policy on “party hardying” and it is clear why the two drove that far to go to a bar: they didn’t want to get caught.
Both Radulov and A. Kostitsyn have been notable in the playoffs thus far for the Predators, with Alexander notching one goal and five assists and AK46 three goals and one assist. Although Radulov’s puck-handling will be missed, AK46 could possibly be the thorn in Nashville’s side on Wednesday night.
With Radulov and Andrei out of the lineup, who will be their replacements?
Don’t get too nervous, there are plenty of guys biting at the tooth to get some playoff ice time.
Here’s one guy that’s definitely been itching for more ice time; he’s been pretty vocal about it as of late. If Toots can manage to keep a level head, his physicality could come in handy against the pesky Coyotes. However, there’s a reason Toots has taken a back seat and, although he’s worked hard during practices, his silly mistakes could prove fatal to the Predators with the series so close to being handed to Phoenix.
Halischuk is what we call a “silent assassin”. Although not a popular, well-known player, Matt Halischuk has made a name for himself and found a permanent home on Predators ice. Halischuk averaged 15 goals and 13 assists in the 2011-12 season, saving the Predators with a few of those moves. However, Hally’s been a bit quiet in this post season, but he has been nursing an injury.
Rookie Craig Smith has had a good mixture of awesome and complete atrocious moments, but the boy is a good hockey player all around. Craig averaged 14 goals and 22 assists in the 2011-12 season, which is pretty impressive for a rookie. Craig hasn’t seen much ice time during the playoffs thus far, but has managed to sneak in an assist so far. However, Smith is a speedster and has proven by showing a little aggression out on the ice, both attributes the Predators could use at this time in the series.
There is simply no excuse for the actions both Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn committed on Saturday night. Some would just brush it off as two young, 20-somethings looking for a good time after taking their first loss, but rules are rules and both David Poile and Barry Trotz were not afraid to put their foot down, risky playoff move or not.
It’s never good to defy your team and teammates at any time, but during such a pivotal point in a series that could end your run at the Stanley Cup is NOT the best time to drink your cares away (especially when there’s a game the next day).
With punishment, maybe Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov will realize that their team, teammates, and fans take this series very seriously and would appreciate that, no matter how old and rambunctious they are, they are professional athletes that should act as such.
Just chalk this mistake up as another thorn in Nashville’s side as they fight to regain their footing towards the Stanley Cup.
(Photo credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)