GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27: Alexander Radulov #47 of the Nashville Predators reacts in Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Just some bullet points I gotta get out there.
- Stronger Start
- Radulov needs to shoot--Yes, Mike Fisher looked off several wide-open shots last night. But his line has been playing too cute all year and getting away with it (good puck luck?), so I don't expect them to change. As long as he and Marty play strong On The Forecheck™, their five-on-five contributions are assured. Alexander Radulov, though, has to shoot. He's not getting paid for his defense (which is not to say he's a liability). Too often last night he skated either around the Coyotes defense, or into the slot, before sending the puck back to a defenseman. In theory, he's right to find the open man and find a quiet area. But practically, in many of those situations, he was choosing a Kevin Klein shot from the point over an Alex Radulov shot from the top of the circle. That's no choice at all. You can't play that well with the puck for 20+ minutes and have 0 SOG.
- Get Gaustad more involved on offense--The Predators losing so many faceoffs was problematic , but can be overcome. The Preds could probably be this bad on faceoffs and still win the series--it's an overrated part of the game. But Trotz might do well to use a Legwand-Gaustad-Radulov line for a few offensive-zone draws in the first period. It's not like the guy is Jerred Smithson on offense--he's got a disruptive net presence that would probably help against Mike Smith.
- No Klein/Josi pairing-- I was wondering how long that would last. Maybe you think I'm turning on Kleiner too soon. But my comfort level with a Gill/Josi second pair is higher than with Klein/Josi right now.
- Get Sergei going--I'm getting pretty sick of his play. He hasn't made any obvious defensive errors, but that shouldn't be the standard for players sitting/playing. Sergei looks lethargic out there. He doesn't get open. He slows up. He stick handles his way out of good offensive opportunities. His dumb icing lead to Whitney's game winner. After seeing how Colin Wilson looked shot out of a canon his first game back in round 2 last year, it's hard to imagine he wouldn't be an improvement. Short of that, why not put Sergei on a line with Andrei? His brother seems to be the only thing that gets him to raise his level lately.