NASHVILLE The segment stood out for its brutal honesty and laser-like focus on a single player.
During the second intermission of the Nashville Predators' 5-3 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday in Game 2 of their Western Conference Semifinal series a loss that put Nashville down 0-2 in the series -- NBC Sports Network analyst Keith Jones showed clip after clip of Preds wing Alex Radulov's play that was at various times careless, lazy and, well, here's how Jones described the play of the two-time KHL MVP.
"They must have not have as many cameras in the KHL as we have here in the NHL," Jones said. "Unbelievable lack of effort from Alex Radulov and lack of execution."
When Radulov, a first-round pick of the Preds in 2004, returned in March after four seasons in his native Russia, it was hailed as a major victory for the Preds. In playing the final nine games of the regular season, Radulov totaled three goals and four assists in nine games an excellent start.
In fact, in the Preds' first-round series, Radulov was the difference-maker who was advertised, finishing with a series-best five points and playing some of the most minutes among the team's forwards time he earned. But now, not only he has scored but one goal in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games this year, but he is hurting his team by being on the ice for too many goals-against. He was a minus-1 in Game 1 and a minus-2 in Game 2.
Jones, his voice dripping in sarcasm as he showed a clip of a poor back-checking effort by Radulov that led to a goal, said, "Look at this effort. Outstanding. I'm amazed he can stay up this late at night."
Then fellow analyst Jeremy Roenick an offensive-minded forward in his day, who, it should be noted, finished as a minus player in each of his final four seasons chimed in.
"They must not take plusminuses into account there (in the KHL) because he was terrible on both sides of the puck," Roenick said, before adding that Radulov might be the Preds' worst player in the series.
Meeting media at the Nashville airport on Monday after their return flight from Phoenix, Preds coach Barry Trotz did not shy away from the criticism of Radulov, saying "yeah, absolutely" that it was warranted.
He said he spoke to Radulov reportedly a lengthy meeting but said the 25-year-old is not the only Pred whose play is lacking. (Trotz would not disclose the particulars of the meeting.) After all, Radulov earned one of those minuses when the center on his line, veteran David Legwand, inexplicably gloved the puck and threw it in front of his own net, leading directly to a Coyotes' goal.
"One thing, we can put a lot of blame in I know Rad took a lot from the NBC crew but there's a lot of guys who have to look in the mirror right now who aren't playing as well as they've played, who aren't contributing in any significant way in the last couple of games here be it scoring chances, be it defensive play, be it momentum be it physicality, all the things, it's just not good enough," Trotz said. "We've got to up our game, plain and simple."
Later, Trotz was asked if Radulov, who did not stick around to speak to the media on Monday, would be in the lineup for Game 3 on Wednesday at Bridgestone Arena.
"I couldn't even tell you that," he said. "Because I don't know. I'm not sure. There's a lot of guys that you could flip out."
In fact, the Preds have a lot of options. Because general manager David Poile was so active at the trading deadline and because of Radulov's return, Nashville has a multitude of players sitting on the bench who have played key roles for the Preds in the playoffs in the past. Matt Halischuk, who went plus-2 and had an assist in Game 1 of the first round, has only played three of the seven postseason games this year. Halischuk netted an overtime winner last season against Vancouver in Round 2.
Long-time Pred and fan favorite Jordin Tootoo has 37 playoff games under his belt with Nashville, including 10 points, but only one game this year and voiced his displeasure publicly to the Tennessean newspaper in the first round about sitting out.
Captain Shea Weber was asked about Radulov on Monday and remained relatively tight-lipped about the subject. Weber did say he met with Radulov, just as Trotz said he met with the team's leadership group.
"He'll be fine," Weber said a few times of Radulov.
For the whole team to be fine, Trotz said a lot of things about its play must change. The good news, he said, is that they are correctable.
And there are a few positives.
"The good things are our power play's getting pretty good," Trotz said of a unit that went 2-for-2 on Sunday. "We're back home where we can be very comfortable and get this thing back on the rails We know what we have to correct. It's just a matter of getting it done."
The series is by no means over. In its two previous meetings with Detroit in the playoffs, Nashville trailed 0-2 only to even the series after Games 3 and 4 at home. Trotz said the goal is to make it a best 2-of-3.
"We're at the point where we better be pretty desperate and urgent," he said. "And we're getting closer to the point where you're running out of options in terms of you're down two games here. Your goal is to get it to down one game and then you're next goal is to get it even. It's got to start with your first shift."
Ideally, with Radulov's first shift.