GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 29: Shea Weber #6 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with Martin Erat #10, Mike Fisher #12 and Patric Hornqvist #27 after Hornqvist scored a second period power play goal past goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes in Game Two of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 29, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The big news around the NHL today was the suspension of Nashville Predator forwards Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov for Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-Final. This means two of the team's top six forwards won't be playing on Wednesday night. Who knows how the Predators will react in Game 2? The suspensions could do all kinds of things to the mental psyche of the squad, especially given they find themselves down 0-2 in a playoff series. However, not all of the possible scenarios involve the team falling apart.
There is no arguing against the fact that the Coyotes are in an excellent position right now. They are playing against a team and a goaltender they are confident they can beat. They have shown themselves to be a good road team when rested which they will be for Wednesday's game. However, it takes four games to win a playoff series and they have only won two so far. If the Preds are galvanized by Sunday's embarrassing loss and/or the suspensions the series could easily be tied if and when things shift back Phoenix for a potential Game 5 if the Coyotes don't play like a team hungry to make the Western Conference Final.
Those folks who haven't followed the Predators may not realize that, prior to the NHL trade deadline, neither player suspended by the team on Tuesday was wearing a Nashville sweater. Andrei Kostitsyn was in Montreal and Rads was in the KHL. Kostitsyn played in nineteen regular season games with the team while, Radulov, who arrived after the KHL season was over, played in only nine. The Preds went 11-7-1 since the Belarussian was dealt to the Preds and 6-3 since the Russian came back to town after his self imposed absence. So far in the series with Phoenix, Kostitsyn has 2 goals while Radulov only has a secondary assist on a power play goal.
Both players are certainly talented, yet they aren't the heart and soul of the squad nor are they the only guys who can put the puck in the net. Nashville went 37-19-7 this season without the duo. A fact the Coyotes and their fans would do well to remember.