The Coyotes push the Predators to the brink of elimination, updates on the other playoff teams, and reports on the increase in shot-blocking, pharmaceutical use among players, and the declining numbers of Russian players in the NHL.

 

Who's at fault for Predators' Game 4 loss to Coyotes?

ARIZONA REPUBLIC/THE TENNESSEAN: Mike Smith made 25 saves and Shane Doan scored the game’s only goal as the Phoenix Coyotes edged the Nashville Predators 1-0 to take a 3-1 lead in the series heading back to Phoenix. It’s expected the Predators will reinstate Alexander Radulov and Andrei Kostitsyn for Game 5.

Incredibly, some analysts are actually blaming Radulov, who was suspended from Game 4, for the Predators loss in that game. You can quibble over whether GM David Poile, head coach Barry Trotz or the players deserve blame for the Predators loss in Game 4, but you cannot pin the blame on the guy who wasn’t in the lineup, considering they won without him in the previous game. That, my friends, is seeking a convenient scapegoat while ignoring the real problem, which was the Predators stunning inability to cash in on several golden scoring opportunities in Game Four.

WASHINGTON POST/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The Washington Capitals offense has struggled in their first three games of their series against the NY Rangers, who are getting significant offensive production from center Brad Richards. That shouldn’t be surprising, as Richards has a proven record for rising to the occasion in the post-season, spotlighted by his winning the Conn Smythe Trophy helping the Tampa Bay Lightning win the 2004 Stanley Cup.

STLTODAY.COM/LOS ANGELES TIMES: St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock claims his team, down 3-0 in their series against the LA Kings, are being beaten at their own game, while Kings defenseman Drew Doughty and his teammates – on the verge of sweeping the Blues and advancing to the Western Conference Final -are having the time of their lives in this year’s playoffs. Fun fact: If the Kings advance to the Western Conference Final, it’ll be the first time they’ll have gone that far since 1993, when Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Luc Robitaille were in the lineup.

NJ.COM/PHILLY.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise said he and his teammates are “having a blast” so far in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers, whose mettle will be tested in Game Four tomorrow if they hope to avoid falling behind three games to one in this series. They’ll need more offensive contributions from Claude Giroux, who’s been shut down for the most part by the Devils checkers.

THE GLOBE & MAIL: James Mirtle on the increase in shot-blocking in the NHL in recent years, and the declining number of Russian players in the NHL, while Sean Gordon examines the use of modern pharmaceuticals among NHL players. Good stuff from Mirtle and Gordon, well worth checking out.