How Sergei Kostitsyn’s lost backcheck could be a blessing in disguise for the Predators
Considering how single-minded Sergei Kostitsyn was in his desire to sit down Sunday night versus the Edmonton Oilers, you can understand why Nashville Predators' coach Barry Trotz has decided Kostitsyn sit a little longer.
After leaving the entire hockey world slack-jawed with the single most inappropriate change you're going to see all year, Kostitsyn is expected to be a healthy scratch Tuesday, according to TSN's Bob McKenzie.
Safe to say this is a pretty easy roster move to explain. It's not every day that you can justify benching a player for one shift, but then again, it's not every day that a player creates a 2-on-1 for the opposing team -- and one on which they convert for a lead inside the final ten minutes -- by quitting on a play.
So he hits, because benching a guy for quitting is basically hockey's equivalent of punishing a teenager after you catch him smoking by making him smoke the whole box.
But while the coaching staff couldn't have been more displeased with Kostitsyn's decision to call it a day, this could still work out very nicely for them.
I've already watched it about 50 times today, but let's take a moment to marvel at it once again:
Even buying Kostitsyn's explanation that he didn't see the second Oiler rushing to join the play, the lack of situational awareness here, with so little time left in the game, is astounding. So is the reaction of assistant coach Peter Horacheck, one of the scariest men in hockey, as he freaks out at the bench. Just the back of his head is chilling.
But, while you could argue that Kostitsyn cost the club points Sunday night, but he wasn't the reason the Predators surrendered a combined 13 goals to the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks in the two games prior. Neither is he responsible for the 3-6-1 slide the Predators are currently on. The club has fallen to 11th in the Conference and suddenly, they're only four points out of the basement.
In other words, Nashville's problems are bigger than one lost backcheck. They need a wake-up call in the worst way.
This may be it. Barry Trotz has been behind the Nashville bench a long time, and there are only so many times he can reassert his message of hard work and defensive posture without an object lesson to accompany it. But Kostitsyn was kind enough to serve as a reminder of what happens when you take your foot off the gas (or, in the case of a strict defensive system, the brake).
Now he sits, and his absence drives the point home. Kostitsyn will serve a one-game ban, courtesy Barry Trotz, and hopefully also serve as a lesson to the rest of the club about what it will take to turn this skid around and get back into the playoff picture. If they can see Kostitsyn's bone-headed play as a blown-up version of what's ailing them right now -- a lack of the sort of effort that's been keeping them in contention for years -- then maybe his error won't be in vain.