Nashville’s Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn found themselves temporarily benched during the Predators’ Western Conference semi-final series against Phoenix after being found guilty of violating the team’s curfew last weekend. It’s a somewhat hysterical overreaction in the view of the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, who claims the pair, “have been attacked righteously, mercilessly and gleefully, turned into stereotypical cultural caricatures, because you know, no North American in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs has ever imbibed too much or broken curfew.”
It fits, even if somewhat obliquely, into the pattern in which “Russian” has somehow (and once again) become a pejorative in the NHL lexicon, because, you know, there’s no way on earth the Devils could win an overtime game with Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexei Ponikarovsky both on the ice at the same time.
It fits into a pattern in which it is deemed wise to play Alexander Ovechkin fewer than 14 minutes in a playoff game in which No. 8 himself actually scored the third-period winner because, by some accounts, he was “fresh.”
Did Radulov and Kostitsyn, respectively the Predators’ leading scorer and tied as leading goal-scorer in the playoffs, merit criticism and Game 3 benching for their indiscretion?
Yes they did. But the piling on was jingoistic and the Game 4 benching that followed in order that Nashville could keep a couple of more fourth-liners in the lineup against the Coyotes (and how did that work out anyway?) was representative of the reason Radulov fled Barry Trotz’s team in the first place.