NHL Playoffs: David Poile and Barry Trotz Risking It All

Riley KuftaContributor IIIMay 1, 2012

GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 27:  Mike Fisher #12 and Alexander Radulov #47 of the Nashville Predators during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 27, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Coyotes defeated the Predators 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Earlier today, the Nashville Predators announced that forwards Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn had been suspended for breaking team rules, and would be sitting out for Game 3.  

This bold move comes after back-to-back losses to the Phoenix Coyotes, putting the Predators down 2-0 in the series.  

The Predators, for a number of years now, have been one of the most defensive-oriented teams in the NHL. However, in the first two games in second round, they've let in an uncharacteristic nine goals. 

In a series where the Predators are getting out-played offensively, one might wonder how they can justify benching the team's two leading point scorers. Or one might wonder if they're the reason the team is struggling defensively? 

While that theory could make sense for Radulov, who's minus-3 in the series, it doesn't fit for the plus-1 Kostitsyn. So that theory can be taken off the table, as it really does appear that this suspension was for off-ice reasons only.  

But is it worth it? It it reasonable to justify on-ice discipline for off-ice actions at this point of the season?

This isn't the regular season where sacrificing a game can be justified; it's the Stanley Cup Playoffs, where one mistake could mean the end. 

David Poile was one of the most active general managers at the trade deadline, adding Hal Gill, Andrei Kostitsyn and Paul Gaustad to the roster.  

His actions appeared to have a purpose—to display a commitment to winning in an effort to draw back Ryan Suter and Shea Weber in the offseason. When Radulov made the decision to return to the Predators, it was the icing on the cake as the Preds quickly became a favorite to win the Stanley Cup.  

In sidelining their two offensive leaders, David Poile isn't just jeopardizing the game, or even the series, but everything he worked for on the deadline and everything he's built over the years.  

If the Predators lose Game 3, and a lack of offense is an issue in the game, the fans and players of the Nashville Predators will be outraged. And more importantly, this contradictory commitment to winning could send two elite defenders elsewhere in the offseason, while reversing years of progress in the organization.  

Is putting values ahead of winning worth that possibility?