When Barry Trotz made the decision to keep two of his best offensive players on the sidelines because he didn't want to mess with the team's game 3 winning formula, he made a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" decision. His gamble did not pay off in game 4 as the team was shutout 1-0 by the Coyotes and now goes back to Phoenix down 3-1 in the series. Perhaps this was a no win scenario from the beginning. The two Russian players broke curfew partying the night before game 2 and were suspended by the team for game 3, which saw the Predators play their best game of the series. Unfortunately lightning proved unable to strike twice, and lack of offense has now put the Preds on the brink of elimination. That being said, had he played them and the team lost, the coach would have been hammered for messing with what worked in game 3.
There were some pundits at the time of Radulov's return to the NHL who speculated that adding this guy wasn't necessarily a good thing. Sure he has offensive skill, but he shows little concern for defense and isn't exactly what you'd call a character guy. Would the Predators have been better off had Radulov stayed in Russia? We may never know. In all likelihood Radulov will return to Russia next season, as his NHL value has taken a serious hit this week. He's not going to strike it rich next season on an RFA contract. He's not Drew Doughty. He's more like a less talented version of Alex Semin. If I had to bet money on it, I'd say he's back in the KHL next fall.
We heard many saying this season that Radulov was the best player not playing in the NHL. He led the KHL in scoring with 63 points, but before you start inflating the value of 63 KHL PTS, note that NHL washout Brandon Bochenski was not far behind with 58 PTS in 49 GP. Bochenski had 68 PTS in 156 NHL GP prior to packing up and moving to Russia.
As fate would have it, on the same day that Radulov and Kostitsyn sat out game 4, a founding member of the Beastie Boys passed away. Rest in peace. The party anthem of my generation.