The Predators lost Game 4 by a 1-0 score and trail Phoenix 3-1 in the series. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
The NHL Playoff Recap gives you THN's take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there's the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn't get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
THN’s Take: The decision to leave Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov out of the lineup for a second game in a row wasn’t easy. It wasn’t as simple as sticking to the same lineup that won Game 3. Coach Barry Trotz still needed goal scorers, which is what those two bring. The two goals Nashville scored in Game 3 weren’t by any play of great skill and that problem carried over to Game 4.
Whether or not you agreed with Trotz’s decision, it was bold to go without his top goal scorer and point-getter of the playoffs two games in a row. Maybe it speaks to a bigger issue, maybe it’s a message about team unity, but those skills were missed at a crucial time. Unless there is a deeper problem here, Kostitsyn and Radulov have to be back in the Game 5 lineup.
However, like many have noted, this team was successful before Radulov or Andrei K. were added to the roster. Sure, winning in December isn’t the same as winning in May, but this team has to be capable of more than a measly two goals in two games at home.
In situations likes these someone has to take charge. For the Predators, it would seem their super duo on defense are the ones who hold that responsibility. Both Ryan Suter and Shea Weber are up for new contracts this summer, so it’s at least possible this is their last run in Nashville together. The Predators led the NHL in goals scored by defensemen this season (47), but Ryan Suter’s Game 2 goal is the only marker from the blueline this series. Nashville’s top-ranked power play has been rendered useless largely because of this development.
For as much ice time as the two pull down, they have to start contributing on offense.
1. Shane Doan – The captain’s goal gave Phoenix its all-important lead. Doan led all Phoenix forwards in ice time and his on-going battle with Hal Gill is great theater.
2. Boyd Gordon – When Gordon was signed by Phoenix last summer, a scout from a rival team mentioned his character and that it was a great signing. Gordon is certainly proving that true. He led all Coyotes in shorthanded time and did everything you can expect out of a defensive player.
3. Ray Whitney – Though he was held pointless, Whitney registered three shots and created with his speed and sight – as always.
The Black Hole: Shea Weber has to bring more than one shot in a game like this. Phoenix does make a point to block shots, but Ryan Suter found a way to get four through. Weber hasn’t scored since Game 3 of the Detroit series and has only one point with a minus-2 rating against Phoenix.