NASHVILLE – Alex Radulov will make his home debut Saturday when the Predators play host to Winnipeg – his first game at Bridgestone Arena in four years.
Radulov, who had a goal in his debut Thursday in 15:54 of ice time while going minus-two at Pittsburgh, said he is still adjusting to being back in the NHL after playing four seasons in Russia’s KHL with its larger ice surface. Jet lag from the time change, in particular, will take a little while. Moscow is nine hours earlier than the Central time zone, where Nashville sits.
The two-time KHL MVP said after the 5-1 loss he was mentally tired.
“Well, first period was a little bit hard because you get into the game and small ice and game was a little bit different,” Radulov said, “But when you get on, the game feel much better. Still, you know, need some time to adjust. Like I said before -- times change. It’s almost 10 hours difference, so it’s a little bit hard. Not looking for any excuses. I just need to get on top of my game and help my teammates.”
Nashville coach Barry Trotz was asked if he would try to calm the excitable Radulov at all going into the game.
“He’s like (Patric) Hornqvist and that’s the espresso line, those two guys,” Trotz said of the wings who are centered by David Legwand. “There’s a lot of energy in those two guys. You don’t really temper it. What makes Rads special is, obviously, he’s got good skills, but his willingness to compete and so he’s sort of like a rink rat. He wants to be there all the time, just like Hornqvist. They both have a lot of joy in their game. They want to be on the ice, they want to be in the important situations so from that standpoint I don’t think I’d want to temper him at all.”
Nashville has lost two straight by a combined 11-4 margin, so the Preds will be looking to get their game back on track Saturday against the Jets.
“It’s a big game for us,” Radulov said of his home opener. “We lost the last game. Everybody understand how important this is for us. … I’m happy to be back. Excited to play first game home. Will be fun, I think."