Pregame Skate: Predators look to even series without wingers

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

7:30 ET, Phoenix at Nashville, Game 4 (NBC Sports Network)

If you listen to the old cliché, we're still waiting for this to become a series. Because, you know, home teams are doing what home teams are supposed to do ... winning in their own arenas.

The big question going into Game 4 concerns Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn again. Will the Preds be able to perform without them again? They were suspended for Game 3 after it was discovered they were out beyond curfew the night before Game 2 in Phoenix. Now it's up to coach Barry Trotz and, well, they're still out. Although now it's a "hockey decision."

After all, with them out of the lineup, Nashville was able to get its first win in the series. Maybe the worry over it isn't as big a deal when you think about it that way.

Was it coincidence that the Predators, who were torched for nine goals in two games by the usually inept Coyotes in the desert, didn't give up a goal in Game 3 without Radulov and Kostitsyn in the lineup? Perhaps. You'll recall that Radulov's defensive efforts were put into question rather critically by Keith Jones of NBC during Game 2.

At the same token they are two offensive weapons, particularly Radulov. Pekka Rinne is awfully good in net, but you can't count on two goals being enough to win every game. That's the consideration Trotz had to make.

Meanwhile, Phoenix is still in a pretty good position, obviously. But they need to find a way to open up the offense. They did generate 32 shots in the last game but not a portion of them came from up high. Rinne is too good to be beaten with regularity from that far out.

Getting Derek Morris to stop taking penalties could help too. He took one in each period in Game 3, not exactly ideal. You might not know this, but it's a lot harder to score when you're killing penalties.

I never understood that "it's not a series until the road team wins" theory. I'd argue that if the Coyotes win Game 4, the series isn't "on." They would have three games, two at home, to win once.

Obviously if you're Nashville the difference in a 3-1 series and a 2-2 series is tremendously big. The Predators can obviously afford to lose one more game in this series, but I wouldn't venture to say it's Game 4, especially not on home ice.

Daily miscellany

  • Because of the Three OT game on Wednesday, Washington D.C.'s Metro stayed open until 1 a.m. and the team is going to foot some of the $29,500 bill. (Washington Post)
  • A new arena is in the works for Markham, Ontario, posing a threat to the Leafs -- if that's possible. (Toronto Star)
  • Is Martin Brodeur hamming it up to get the benefit of the doubt from the refs? (Philly.com)
  • Bruins owner wants whoever wins the Stanley Cup to know that it's on loan this season because it's coming back to Boston. (NESN)
  • Team USA opened up with a 7-2 win over France at the World Championships, led by two Kyle Okposo goals. (IIHF)
  • Martin Biron got to watch the 3OT game from the bench from start to finish and shares some good insight from the inside while touring Georgetown.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

 
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