There will be no suspicion leading into tonight’s Game Four regarding the Predators’ lineup: Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn will not play.
“The decision for me was pretty simple. The group that went in there [in Game Three] was very committed and got the job done – plain and simple,” Predators head coach Barry Trotz said. “Alex and Andrei are top players. At the same time I felt the group responded really well and I expect the group to respond again.
“When I told them, obviously they want to be in and want to have some vindication, but at the same time they are really good about being good pros.”
Trotz confirmed that this is a pure hockey decision, not a carryover suspension.
“The mix of players works better sometimes,” he said. “Last game, I don’t think there’s anybody, after watching the first two games, that wouldn’t have said that’s more of a Predators type of team, type of style, Predator focus – all that.
“I’m not holding out because it’s a longer suspension. They were able to come in, I talked to them, it’s really a coach’s decision. We feel the group got it done last game and they’ll hopefully do it tonight.”
Down 2-1 in the series, it’s a dicey move by Trotz to keep two of his more talented forwards out of the lineup. If the Predators lose tonight they’ll be facing elimination in Monday’s Game Five. If they win however, Trotz will look like a genius for keeping the Game Three lineup intact.
Following morning skate, Radulov initially broke the news about his status for tonight. He said he’s not frustrated and is okay with Trotz’s decision.
“The guys played well. I think they made the right decision to stick (with) them; they deserve it,” Radulov said. “As long as we’re winning, it’s fine. It’s a long playoff.”
Game Three was all about improving defensively after a lackluster effort in Phoenix. One thing they would like to improve on tonight is the power play, which is 0-for-20 at home this postseason.
“We’re trying not to be predictable on the power play, give them different looks and make it difficult for them to kill,” Mike Fisher said today. “We’ve been doing a good job of getting entries and getting set up.”
The power play failed to capitalize on all five opportunities in Game Three, but did get eight shots on net.
“Sometimes you get pucks through and rebounds and bounces. It’s just a matter of volume and to keep that going. We have to keep those opportunities coming and usually it weighs itself out,” Fisher said.