Radulov creative scorer Predators lacked in past

AP Sports Writer

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – Alexander Radulov's absence from practice makes the jokes far too easy: The forward is on his way back to Russia. Someone just dropped him off at the airport.

However, Nashville opponents aren't laughing.

The Predators are a more serious Stanley Cup contender with the talented forward back in the lineup.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz gave Radulov the day off Monday and expects him back at practice Tuesday.

After spending four years waiting for Radulov to return from the Kontinental Hockey League, the Predators hope he helps push them deep into the playoffs.

Nashville opens a first-round series at home Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings.

Trotz says there's still times where the Predators have to learn to play with Radulov because of his higher skills.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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