Preds coach comes clean
Trotz won't play partying pair if team wins Game 3
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
|Preds coach Barry Trotz said he didn't find out about the curfew violation by Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn until after Game 2. (Mike Blake/Reuters/Files)
NASHVILLE - If the Nashville Predators find a way to win, bad boys Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn will continue to be on the outside looking in.
Nashville coach Barry Trotz, who decided to suspend the pair for breaking curfew before Game 2 of their second-round playoff series against the Phoenix Coyotes, made it clear that if the Predators found a way to win Game 3 Wednesday, he would go with the same lineup for Game 4 Friday.
"Obviously with our situation, tonight if we get it done, I would expect I would probably go back with the same group, the group that gets it done," said Trotz as his team prepared to try and get out of the 0-2 hole in in the best-of-seven series.
Radulov and Kostitsyn were suspended by the team when it came to light the pair were out until the early hours of Sunday morning before Game 2. Because of the afternoon start time, there were no morning skates.
Trotz said Wednesday he didn't find out about the curfew violation until after Game 2 or the pair wouldn't have played.
"I'll throw this out because it has been asked on a lot of shows. We did not know before Game 2. We found out after Game 2. Hell would have had to freeze over if they would have played Game 2 if I knew before. That's how I am, that's how the management team is and that's how the Nashville Predators are run.
"There's been a lot of speculation that we knew and that's a bunch of crap. We didn't. I just wanted to throw that out there because it's been asked a lot, but never to me."
The Predators have struggled against the Coyotes, who have been full value for their 2-0 lead going into Wednesday's game. There was some hope in the Nashville camp that with Radulov and Kostitsyn out of the lineup, the Predators might rediscover the form they showed for most the regular season. The pair were added late in the season -- Kostitsyn at the trade deadline and Radulov from the Kontinential Hockey League when his season there ended.
With those guys suspended, it was expected Trotz would insert two of Matt Halischuk, Craig Smith or Jordin Tootoo.
Halischuk had 15 goals in the regular season and Smith 14, so there's some offence there to replace that potentially lost without Radulov, who leads the Preds in playoff scoring with one goal and five assists, and Kostitsyn.
"The guys that are out tonight, Andrei and Rad, they weren't with us for 65 games or so. The guys who are going in have been together. A Craig Smith has been on the power play. We've had different people do that. They are going to be put in roles. They did it for 65 games. They're going to be fine tonight," said Trotz.
The coach was also expected to jiggle his defence pairings.
Defencemen Kevin Klein and Roman Josi were on the ice for three Coyotes goals Sunday. Josi was expected to be paired with veteran Hal Gill for Wednesday's game while Klein was to be with Francis Bouillon.
Trotz said he was hoping the contrasting styles of Gill and Josi would mesh.
"Josi is a good transporter of the puck, he's got good escapability, sort of in the mold of Ryan Suter. He's got good instincts to jump up offensively. Hal is sort of that big, steady rock back there who is a good communicator and he's reliable for a young guy like Josi who will actively jump up into the play at times," said Trotz.
"He just gives him that confidence that he's back there. Hal is a great teacher for a young guy like Roman. Obviously their games are almost polar opposites, but sometimes that's why it works so well."
The Predators have not had the lead in this series going into Game 3.
Trotz was asked what would be a good start for his club.
"A good start," he said, "is you don't get scored on in the first minute."