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Morning Skate Report: March 20 vs Edmonton

by Doug Brumley / Nashville Predators

With rumors of a return by Alexander Radulov to the Nashville Predators organization looming, head coach Barry Trotz was emphatic when redirecting media questions following today’s morning skate. The Predators face the Edmonton Oilers 7 pm tonight at Bridgestone Arena.

“We’re coming back from a long road trip and tonight’s a critical game for us,” Trotz said. “We’re tied with Detroit [in the Western Conference standings]. Our focus has to be on the Edmonton Oilers and getting two points. They’ve kicked our ass here, 6-2 last time at home. To me, we’ve got to respond tonight.”

Trotz then addressed the issue on most media members’ minds: the apparent likelihood that former Predator winger Alexander Radulov is returning to Nashville to join the team after spending four seasons in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Early Tuesday Radulov posted a photo of himself—apparently seated on an airplane—with the caption “In the [plane] going to new york then Nashville.”

Trotz said: “Yes, there is the strong rumor and possibility that Radulov is on a plane coming here. I get that. If he’s here, then we’ll fit him in the lineup, just like we have [with other guys]. The great thing is … there are seven or eight guys that know him. Guastad got here and Gill got here and they didn’t know anybody. So I think it’s going to be an easier transition. Can he help us? Yes he can. He’s a dynamic player. He’ll have to transition over to here as quick as possible.”

Team captain Shea Weber said he laughed when he saw Radulov’s tweet. “Obviously he’s coming and that’s exciting but [Edmonton] is a team that can fly and we haven’t played particularly well against this year, so we’ve got to be ready,” Weber said.

Indeed, the Predators have one win in three tries against the Oilers in the 2011-12 campaign. In the fifth game of the season, Nashville mustered just 12 shots in a 3-1 loss in Edmonton. The next meeting, on Nov. 22, was the aforementioned 6-2 loss at Bridgestone Arena. Trotz praised his team’s most recent game against Edmonton—a 2-1 road win on Nov. 28 that he described this morning as “more of a Predator-type game.”

“[Edmonton] has always been an offensive team,” goaltender Pekka Rinne said. “They have a lot of young guys with a lot of skill and they play maybe a little bit of a … risky game. They take chances. When they are going they are a really dangerous team.”

“They’re not an easy team for anybody to play, and this year they’ve been particularly hard to play against for us,” Trotz said.
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