x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Nashville deserve credit for sticking to their principles in NHL

Despite all that was on the line, Nashville stuck to their principles and sat out two key players they had added late in the season.

This April 20, 2012 photo shows Nashville Predators right wing Andrei Kostitsyn, of Belarus, celebrating after beating the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series in Nashville, Tenn. The Nashville Predators have suspended forwards Alexander Radulov and Kostitsyn for Game 3 on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes for violating team rules.  The Predators announced the suspensions Tuesday morning, May 1, 2012,  and did not specify which rules the forwards broke. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
This April 20, 2012 photo shows Nashville Predators right wing Andrei Kostitsyn, of Belarus, celebrating after beating the Detroit Red Wings in Game 5 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series in Nashville, Tenn. The Nashville Predators have suspended forwards Alexander Radulov and Kostitsyn for Game 3 on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes for violating team rules. The Predators announced the suspensions Tuesday morning, May 1, 2012, and did not specify which rules the forwards broke. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

The Nashville Predators did what they always do. They put the team first. It has been a formula for success for the franchise that opened up for business 15 years ago, and they were not going to do anything different now.

So when Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn were discovered to have missed a curfew - reportedly out carousing until the wee hours the night before Game 2 against the Phoenix Coyotes - the Preds were quick to discipline their top two leading play-off scorers.

Nashville issued a team suspension, banning the skilled wingers to the press box for a crucial Game 3. (While the transgression happened before Game 2, it was not discovered until afterwards.) But after eliminating the always powerful Detroit Red Wings in five games in Round 1, the Preds' play-off run hit a roadblock in Phoenix as they lost the first two games.

Despite all that was on the line, Nashville stuck to their principles and sat out two key players they had added late in the season.

Radulov was welcomed back after bolting to Russia's KHL four years ago, and Kostitsyn was obtained at the trade deadline. Nashville, a top team all season, knew they could win without their hired guns, and the Preds did just that with a 2-0 victory in Game 3.

This success came with a conundrum, though, as coach Barry Trotz had to decide whether to re-insert Radulov and Kostitsyn, or stick with the winning line-up, the group of guys that had won all season. Trotz opted for the latter, a brave choice but not a shocking one.

This time, the Predators were on the wrong side of a shut out, a 1-0 defeat that sent them back to Phoenix trailing 3-1 in the series. Radulov and Kostitsyn will surely get back in the line-up, but the late-night damage has already been done.

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