Nashville Predators v Minnesota Wild

Last night the Predators of Nashville lost 4-3 to the UNSTOPPABLE Blue Jackets of Columbus (I kid, but they actually are 7-0-4 in their last 11 games and currently tied for the final playoff spot in the West), and have now dropped to 13th after losing four straight, the last three of which were to Calgary, Edmonton and Columbus. Yyyyikes.

What a team like that needs is all hands on deck, everybody going, a great team effort…only they didn’t dress their best possible team. And you know why.

They didn’t dress Sergei Kostitsyn because he made one of the more hilarious, egregious, most ridiculous line changes in the history of hockey, abandoning a player a stride ahead of him who was carrying the puck because, I dunno, someone else take this minus I’m tired.

So yeah. It was a horseshit play. I get that, and so does he.

I’m in favour of coaches benching a player for an accumulation of lazy plays, or a repeat demonstration of poor positioning, or for any number of things that put you in a position to say “look dude, you’re just not getting it,” or “you’re just not working hard enough.” “We need more from you consistently, and until you prove you can give it to us, we’re going to play someone who can. 

Minnesota Wild v Nashville PredatorsBut Sergei Kostitsyn has been a reliable player for the Predators. He sure as hell hasn’t been pouring the puck in the net this year, but with 11 points in 28 games on a team three goals removed from dead last in goals-for in the NHL, he has value. This isn’t a referendum on him as a player – there’s a reason he’s on Nashville’s powerplay in the third to make that gaffe the other night in the first place. They think he’s good.

By making him a healthy scratch for that ridiculous brain fart the team message to him is “Hey, don’t do anything completely ridiculous.”

He knows that.

Of course he knows that, and he knows it even more after getting nationally embarrassed for his dumb decision. That Edmonton scored – Lennart Petrell scored, to top it off – really made the whole thing even worse for him.

No hockey player wants to be embarrassed, and I think you could’ve got a hard, passionate game out of Kostitsyn by calling him into the coaches office and saying “Look, we both know what happened there and what you did wrong. By all means I could make you a healthy scratch, but I believe you’re a better player than that, and I need you to prove it tonight. Otherwise I’m the guy who looks like an a** here. Don’t make me look like an a**.”

By making him a healthy scratch, all you’ve done is cover your own backside. “See guys? I don’t take any crap from my players.” It’s the easy way out, and doesn’t just punish Kostitsyn, it hurts his teammates, and exacerbates the original problem.

The Nashville Predators simply aren’t deep enough, had lost three straight, and fell a goal short last night. Who knows if Kostitsyn’s the difference, but his replacement, Taylor Beck (playing 15 minutes in his first NHL game) shouldn’t have been expected to be. You had the chance to make your more experienced guy put up or shut up, and instead chose to put him up in the press box. It was the easy way out.

Comments (23)

  1. “I think you could’ve got a hard, passionate game out of Kostitsyn by calling him into the coaches office”

    Great point Justin. If he’s not a guy prone to these types of mistakes, wouldn’t it be better to motivate him rather than punish him? And to me, yeah it was a dumb play, but I don’t see why you need to bench the guy for it. He probably felt like an absolute idiot afterwards.

  2. 11 points in 28 games isn’t that good. He is an average player that can easily be replaced. And I’m sure there is something we may not know of the story. Now if he had like 30 points in 28 games then yes, he should play. But 11 is replicable from someone else

    • Nashville is all about the d dude

    • Other guys with 11 points in 28-ish games: Drew Stafford, Mikhail Grabovski, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Brendan Morrow. Kostitsyn led Nashville in scoring a couple years ago, they should probably play him.

      • Totally agree. Noone is suggesting Kostitsyn is beyond reproach, or that he’s the best.. but there isn’t a whole lot to replace him in Nashville and although that was a dumb play – he hasn’t been the reason they suck.

  3. As a Nashville fan, I totally agree that it was gratuitous. It’s the same thing as sitting Sergei’s brother and Alex Radulov in the playoffs last year, cutting off your nose to prove to the rest of your face that you’re not a punk.

  4. Maybe this was the culmination of a long streak of poor play this season? Looking at his nhl.com page, the guy has 20 shots in 28 games, far below his previous averages in a Preds uniform, despite playing 17 mins per game including 2 on the power play.

    I agree with your article if this is an isolated incident, but a quick look at the stats makes me suspect otherwise.

  5. “Maybe this was the culmination of a long streak of poor play this season? ”

    That’s exactly what it was. While I agree it might have been the “easy way out” there is much more to it than that. He was benched the game before this terrible play. And we have a couple more veterans that probably should be benched.. Sergi, like many others on the Predators, are just playing way below what they should.. .

  6. I love this site…once again we have a bunch of clowns who have probably never played hockey at an elite level defending a guy like Kostitsyn. History lesson Bourne…Kostitsyn is a waste of skin…he has a history or trying when he feels like it that dates back to his time in Montreal…and he has let this team down with off ice shit more than once. You can bet that this idiot has no currency within the dressing room. In hockey, guys flip on each other for taking dumb penalties…I’d be surprised if Shea Weber didn’t come close to ending his life in the room. For a guy like Mike Fisher this line change could be chalked up to a mistake, but for this waste of time it is another piece of evidence that he doesn’t understand what it takes to win. Trotz scratched him to make sure he doesn’t lose the rest of the team who have no use for a guy like this. Funny thing about hockey…trying really hard and getting traffic in front of the net leads to a lot more goals than some plug like Kostitsyn can generate…bring a kid into the lineup who’s been dying for a shot at the show…then we’ll see what happens

  7. Wrong Kostitsyn bro – it was the other one that was partying with Radulov

  8. I stopped playing NHL 13 because the AI constantly does this in the Be a Pro mode and it was sending my imaginary defenseman’s career down the garbage. Apologies to EA because it turns out IT’S IN THE GAME and they’ve made a realistic game after all.

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