After getting the win last night in the desert the Predators have now won two games in Phoenix for the first time the pre-lockout 2003-2004 season (Remember those days? Tripping, holding obstruction and no two line passes? Ewww). However it wasn’t exactly a textbook winning after blowing a 2 goal third period lead to play for overtime and finally earn the “W” in the shootout (Its implementation represents another thing that has changed since the last time the Preds won 2 games in Arizona).
The bigger story though is the impact the “new guys” had on the outcome as Hal Gill and Paul Gaustad each recorded assists and played their usual gritty, “black and blue” style game and Andrei Kostitsyn had the decisive shootout winner. Gaustad’s faceoff acumen was also on display as he won 63% of his team leading 19 draws, puck possession especially as the postseason gets closer is pivotal to sustained success. Two points is big but as we speak a bigger development is in the works: the team’s prodigal son Russian sniper Alex Radulov could very well be on his way back to the Music City. With his KHL season over and his desire to return to the NHL as apparent as ever Radulov could be the last piece to the Preds’ Stanley Cup puzzle. There are obviously pluses (An elite Russian sniper with game changing skills) and minuses (He did pretty much quit four years ago) but rumors of a comeback have been persistent pretty much since he bolted Tennessee for Mother Russia and now as a Stanley Cup run is as realistic as ever his addition and what he can do offensively would be beyond beneficial. One other detail that is overlooked is his close friendship with both Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and as free agency has been looming for the two of them, an elite player who is also a closer friend may also be a game changer in keeping both of the all world defenseman in Nashville for the long haul.
The specifics as of now are still foggy, but right now it looks like GM Dave Poille could be returning from the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Florida with more than just a tan.