With the Alexander Radulov distraction appearing to come to an end for this season with news from various sources indicating that the wayward Russian will not be allowed to return, the Nashville Predators need to focus on tonight's game (9:30 p.m. CDT) with the San Jose Sharks where a win could move them into fourth place in the Western Conference, and the first round home-ice advantage that would go with it.
The Detroit Red Wings have stumbled the last two nights with losses to the L.A. Kings and Anaheim Ducks and now sit at 91 points with only eleven games remaining. With a victory tonight, the Predators would also be at 91 points with a game in hand, allowing the Preds to move into fourth place and control their destiny going forward.
The Predators will have their work cut out for them as games at the Shark Tank have always been tough tests with 13 of the last 17 games between the two teams being decided by one goal. The Preds are 2-1 with the Sharks this season and won 6-2 in their last meeting in Nashville of February 25.
Always a favorite in the Pacific Division, San Jose has not played as well as expected in recent games, going 2-5-3 in the last ten games, and losing 3-2 in overtime in their last game in Calgary on Tuesday night.
With so much hype over the last few days in the media about the possible return of Radulov, it will be a true test for Barry Trotz and his staff to keep the player's focus on winning with the players that are with the team and put all the distractions behind them.
After the game with the Sharks, the Predators will travel to Los Angeles where they will play the Kings on Saturday and the Ducks on Sunday before returning to the Bridgestone Arena to host Edmonton next Tuesday.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass