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Nashville Predators GM David Poile announced on Tuesday afternoon that forward Alex Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn will not play in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night after a "violation of team rules" over the weekend.
"The Nashville Predators have a few simple rules centered around doing the right things," Poile said. "We have always operated with a team-first mentality and philosophy. Violating team rules is not fair to our team and their teammates."
Per a source, Radulov and Kostitsyn engaged in some extra curricular activities on Saturday night that are generally frowned upon for the healthy and game-readiness for professional athletes. Let's call it a "curfew violation" until officially noted otherwise.
Please recall that Game 2 of their series against the Coyotes, in which Nashville is down 0-2, was on Sunday night. Please also recall that was the game in which NBCSN analyst Keith Jones eviscerated Radulov's lack of effort on national television, embarrassing both the player and his team. Kostitsyn was a plus-1 with a goal. Radulov was a minus-2 with an assist.
This has to be embarrassing for Poile, who stepped up and defended Radulov as a more mature player upon his return to the NHL from the KHL.
"I think he's a better version of what he was both as a player and as a person," Poile said of the 25-year-old, who scored 26 goals in the NHL in 2007-08. "We talk all the time about your younger players; as they get older and have more experiences, I think they know how to play more effectively, more successfully, and I think they understand the team concept a lot better."
Uh-huh. Well, at least there's one Russian that Ovechkin's going to have more ice time than in a Game 3 ...
[Nicholas J. Cotsonika: Alex Ovechkin making most of diminished role with Capitals]
How does this affect the Predators? On The Forecheck looks at potential new line combinations rolled out in practice.
But more to the point: It should galvanize them. Down two games in this series, headed home with two players having "betrayed" team rules at a critical time … if the Predators and coach Barry Trotz don't rally around this frustration and perform better in Game 3, then pack up the tents.
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