Реклама в Интернет * Все Кулички
|6 декабря 2006
Radulov heats up in limited ice time \\ Robertson County Times
Rookie has seven goals in 13 games
By JOHN GLENNON
ANAHEIM — There's no NHL statistic that measures players' productivity per minutes on the ice.
But if there were, odds are Predators rookie forward Alexander Radulov
would top the charts.
Heading into tonight's showdown against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Radulov has played in just 13 games and averaged just 8:40 ice time during those contests.
But despite his limited role, he's already: moved into a tie for third on the Predators with seven goals; moved into a tie for third among NHL rookies in goal-scoring; and compiled a six-game points streak that's included five goals.
"He's got the scorer's touch, and he knows where to go with the puck in the offensive zone," Predators forward J.P. Dumont said. "He's always dangerous when he's on the ice. That's what made him great in juniors, and that's what is going to work for him here, too."
Here's another perspective on what Radulov has been able to accomplish:
The Predators' top three point producers — Steve Sullivan, Paul Kariya and Martin Erat — are averaging 19:21, 19:36 and 18:06 ice time per game, respectively. But Radulov has scored one more goal than both Erat and Kariya, and only one fewer than Sullivan.
Those kinds of numbers have some Predators fans clamoring for the talented 20-year-old to see more ice time.
After all, some of the NHL's other top rookies, such as Pittsburgh's Evgeni Malkin, Los Angeles' Anze Kopitar and Colorado's Paul Stastny, are seeing between 17 and 20 minutes per contest.
But Predators Coach Barry Trotz has his reasons for limiting Radulov's ice time.
One is that Nashville has four proven scoring wings on the team's top two lines, and it's unlikely that Trotz is going to cut drastically into the ice time of players such as Dumont, Erat, Kariya or Sullivan in the near future.
"It's easy to say, 'Play Radulov 15 minutes a game,' but that means a guy like Kariya or Erat or Sullivan or Dumont is playing less," Trotz said. "Who's coming off? There's always a cause and effect, and it would take ice time away from your big producers."
Then there's the special-teams situation.
Much of today's NHL is made up of either power-play or penalty-kill specialists, and because Radulov hasn't earned a spot in either group yet, he can't get on the ice as often as he'd like.
"We started to give him a little more regular power-play time (on Monday) than we had previously," Trotz said. "But again, it's a question of who comes off. Do you take a (Scott) Hartnell, (David) Legwand or Erat out? We have a lot of guys that play offensive roles for us."
Third, Radulov, like all offensive-minded players who make the jump from juniors to the NHL, is still working on his all-round game.
"He's not terrible defensively, so it's not a big issue," Trotz said. "It's just improving his reads defensively and through the neutral zone. But he's such a sponge about learning that he'll get better."
To his credit, Radulov remains irrepressibly energetic, whether he's playing six minutes or 11 minutes per contest.
"I can't control the ice time, so when they let me, I just go on the ice and do my best," he said. "If I get a chance, I try to score or if I get a chance to make a play, I try to make a play. If there's no play, I try to be safe. If I play like this, then they will let me play more."
That Radulov will eventually see more ice time is a lock.
The only question at this point is when.
"We just want to make sure we put him in situations where he can succeed and become more confident," Trotz said. "We're trying to bring him along slowly. That's the way we did it with guys like Shea Weber and Ryan Suter and Marty Erat, and they've progressed pretty well."