Radulov won't beg to play
Some Preds want him kept benched
CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency
NASHVILLE - Alexander Radulov said he's not going to go begging to get his job back.
It probably wouldn't make a difference, anyway.
The Nashville Predators forward and teammate Andrei Kostitsyn will likely see their stay in purgatory continue for Game 4 of their series against the Phoenix Coyotes Friday night.
With Radulov and Kostitsyn suspended for breaking curfew before Game 2, the Predators stormed back for a 2-0 win Wednesday night to get back into the series, which they now trail 2-1.
At practice Thursday, they skated on a line with Craig Smith, another Game 3 scratch. Afterwards Predators coach Barry Trotz said it would be "very tough," to change a winning lineup.
"I thought everybody was pretty committed. I can't make or give you a definite decision right now because I don't have that. But the guys that were in got the job done and played very hard, so it would be very difficult for me at this point go give you an exact lineup for tomorrow," said Trotz, who replaced Radulov and Kostitsyn with Jordin Tootoo and Matt Halischuk.
Halischuk was banged up a bit in Game 3, but practised Thursday.
If it's up to the Predators players, the wayward pair would sit at least another game. A couple of Preds indicated to QMI Agency that if they were asked, they would tell Trotz to leave Radulov and Kostitsyn out of the lineup.
Trotz will probably consult his senior leadership group about whether to end the exile of Radulov or Kostitsyn, or both.
"I will probably ask for some thoughts," he said. "I think it's important that your leadership is always informed because if they're not, I think it can be counter-productive. The good leadership that we have is an extension of what my message wants to be. They've always been pretty supportive. I'll talk to my associate coaches and assistant coaches and just feel where we are and we'll really dissect the game and the individuals within the game. If there's anything clear or unclear we may go to them and say, 'Here's what we're thinking about.'
"I think we have a real good relationship with our leadership group that they'll come to me and say, 'I really think this is the right thing to do,' one way or another if they feel strongly about it."
It was interesting to note that before practice started Thursday, Radulov and Tootoo had a verbal exchange. Tootoo skated by Radulov and appeared to say something to which the Russian reacted angrily.
When asked if he had a thing with Radulov, Tootoo replied: "No, it's just part of practice. Everyone chats out there," said Tootoo with a laugh. "You guys can think all you want. Part of practice is communicating out there and that's what we did."
Radulov, the team's leading scorer in the playoffs when he was suspended, said he wouldn't be lobbying to get back his spot in the lineup.
"I'm not going to go and ask because usually they say it after a morning skate (Friday). I don't think it's right to go and ask. The guys played well yesterday. I mean, I want to play, but it's not like I'll go and ask for it. What ever happens tomorrow, happens. Just make sure we're ready for the game," he said.
When asked if he had learned a lesson, Radulov said: "We have nothing to talk about. We've been talking about this for like five days or what? Three days? The team is winning, it's 2-1 in the series, can we talk about hockey, or what?"
Radulov said he is still all about the team. But that might not be anough to sway Trotz.
"I think it's going to be my decision whether he lobbies or not," said Trotz. "I think that's very professional of Rads to do that. I will tell you this with Rads: They both know they made a mistake, but they do care about what happens with the team. They were cheering like crazy (Wednesday). They know it might prevent them from being in the lineup (Friday), they might not like it, but they're supportive."
Radulov and Kostitsyn should be ready to wave the pom-poms again Friday night.