Keith Jones explains his character assassination of Predators’ Alex Radulov on NBC

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Along with Andrei Kostitsyn, Nashville Predators forward Alex Radulov will not be in the lineup for Game 3 against the Phoenix Coyotes, as both players sit after a violation of team rules related to a Saturday night curfew.

GM David Poile's move has been called bold and gutsy, as the Preds are in a 0-2 hole and Radulov in particular is a dangerous offensive weapon. But didn't Keith Jones make the word safe for Radulov to be scratched after this Game 2 evisceration of the Nashville forward on NBC Sports Network?

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This commentary went viral after the game, as the hockey word piled on Radulov and Jones's critique began a fresh round of European player debates that reached its apex with the quasi-suspensions for Kostitsyn and Radulov.

Josh Cooper of The Tennessean was among those who criticized Jones's criticism; for example noting that a poor backcheck by Radulov on a Mikkel Boedker odd-man rush goal came at the end of a tiring shift of over a minute for the Predators forward. It was more exhaustion than indifference.

Cooper spoke with Jones about his dissection of Radulov's game, and whether it was fair:

"Anytime you're doing video on any player, if you really look you can make it negative even if the guy is the greatest player in the league. The people say the video never lies, but it can if you want to make it into something, but I would never do that," Jones said. "In this case I couldn't stop seeing these breakdowns from him in his game.

"I played for Barry Trotz. He knows the game and the details of the game, and the details were being missed by one of his star players."

(Jones played for Trotz as a young player with the Washington Capitals' AHL affiliates in the early 1990s.)

Jones was still spot-on with most of his analysis, rightfully calling out Radulov's play in the Coyotes series. Of course, now that Saturday's foibles have come to light, perhaps there was a reason for Radulov's play in Game 2. Boy, that arena lighting's harsh after a Saturday night well-spent …

Bottom line: Had this been Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne breaking curfew, I don't think they sit for Game 3. Radulov and Kostitsyn were safer plays than what's being sold in praising Poile. He essentially benches an ineffective player, another that's been a liability while also galvanizing his team in a must-win game. This isn't his first rodeo; he knows the stakes.

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