When Alexander Radulov got going, so did the Canadiens. Montreal’s 2-1 series lead over the Rangers has been driven by the 30-year-old winger’s five points in the last two games, including this absurd one-handed beauty to seal Game 3:
Radulov, who’d played all of nine NHL games since 2008 before returning on a one-year, $5.75 million deal with Montreal, is looking like a bargain. He had a good year, a 54-point season including six points in the last six regular-season games, but more importantly he had a quiet year.
Radulov’s always been talented, but his two separate stints in Nashville each ended poorly. The first time, he left for the KHL while still under contract with the Predators, leading to disputes at the highest level of international hockey. The second time, he missed curfew during the playoffs. It was back to Russia after that.
Radulov says he regrets what happened in Nashville and has learned from it:
“We all make mistakes. But when you make one when you’re 21 or 25, it hurts you a bit and then you won’t let it happen again, unless you’re dumb.”
Defenseman Shea Weber was there in Nashville, and he was asked what’s different about Radulov this time around. “He’s 10 years older, less teeth,” Weber said yesterday, “but he’s still got a lot of energy and passion.”
Maturity is an overused, overbroad concept in sports, but if maturity means that Radulov not out drinking till 5 a.m. the night before games, sure, maturity is great! If maturity means having been around long enough to get in position to keep a puck in one end, and to recognize when a goalie is committing one way so as to go the other, that’s even better.