Lightning rookie defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was a healthy scratch Tuesday for the first time this season.
Coach Jon Cooper didn't elaborate on the move, just labeling it a "coach's decision."
It was a bold decision, especially with the team already without All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman, and facing one of the league's top teams in the Predators.
But this shouldn't be a complete surprise. Sergachev, 19, has been struggling lately, a minus-four with two points in his last eight games. And Sergachev let his frustrations out Monday in Chicago when he got an unsportsmanlike penalty after mouthing off at an official and tossing a towel in the penalty box.
That led to what could have been a costly four-minute power play by the Blackhawks in the second period of a 0-0 game. The Lightning ended up winning the game 2-0.
Having Sergachev sit a game out could be good for him mentally, see the game from a different perspective. Judging by how hard – and long – Sergachev worked during Tuesday's optional skate in Nashville, he's handling this the right way.
It'll likely be just a bump in the road in what's been an extremely impressive first full pro season. Sergachev is among the leaders in Atlantic Division defensemen in goals (eight) and points (27), a plus-11.
Coaches and teammates have raved about Sergachev's attitude and maturity for such a young age.
"He's such a great kid, receptive and he's honest," associate coach Rick Bowness said last week. "He knows when he's not playing well."
Sergachev gets it. He said as much last week when talking about potentially having a larger role with Hedman out with a lower-body injury.
"I'm going to play as much as I deserve," Sergachev said. "If I'm going to play good, I'll play more. If not, I'm not."