News broke during Tuesday’s practice that Predators forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn would miss Game 3 of Nashville’s Western Conference Semifinal series due to an undisclosed violation of team rules.
“I met with both of them this morning,” general manager David Poile said at a media availability during practice. “They know that they are not playing the game. This has been no more than a big distraction for our hockey team. I wanted to make the announcement today just to get this distraction out of the way so our players could get better prepared for Game 3 tomorrow night.”
Both Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn did practice with the team Tuesday. While players expressed disappointment that their teammates violated team rules and will miss a critical playoff game, they chose to focus on the bigger task at hand in their series against Phoenix. Nashville trails the best-of-seven series two games to zero.
“We’re all going to have to step up,” Mike Fisher said after practice. “This could be a good turning point for us. We’ve always been about team and team first all year long, and that’s how we win. That’s what we’ve got to get back to.”
“Maybe they broke the rules but it’s everyone in here’s play that’s cost us two games,” team captain Shea Weber said. “That’s the big thing. Our performance on the ice hasn’t been what it should be.”
The absence of the two forwards obviously means two other players are going to see game action Wednesday. This is where the Predators’ depth comes into play. Head coach Barry Trotz told the media that he’d made up his mind on the two replacements but wouldn’t specifically say who.
“Obviously in terms of guys that are available that didn’t play, Matt Halischuk and Jordin Tootoo are two guys that didn’t play last game, and Craig Smith,” Trotz said. “At least two of those three guys will for sure play.”
That comment from Trotz came after he grew weary of a number of media questions focusing on the player rules violations.
“I’m done with it right now and I think the guys in [the locker room] are done with it,” the coach said. “We’ve got to look forward to Game 3. We’ve put ourselves in a hole. Number one is we’ve got to get ourselves out of the hole.
“This team has got lots of character. It’s got lots of ambition and determination and I expect us to have our best game of the year tomorrow night.”
White jerseys: Mike Fisher with Sergei Kostitsyn and Martin Erat
White jerseys: David Legwand with Gabriel Bourque and Patric Hornqvist
Silver jerseys: Nick Spaling with Brandon Yip and Craig Smith
Silver jerseys: Paul Gaustad with Matt Halischuk, Jordin Tootoo and Colin Wilson
Gold jerseys: Andrei Kostitsyn, Brian McGrattan, Alexander Radulov
Ryan Suter and Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon and Kevin Klein
Hal Gill and Roman Josi
Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis