They say knowledge is power. I don't know quite how true that holds in a series where what we the fans know won't hold nearly as much weight as what our team knows, but it couldn't hurt, could it? Yesterday, Andrew gave you a look into the Predators' defense, Nashville's strength coming into the postseason. As part of our "Meet the Enemy" series, today we will tackle the Nashville goalies.
Pekka Rinne first made waves last year when he came, seemingly out of nowhere to take over as the Predators' starting goalie. He hasn't really disappointed, either, doing a stellar job although the Preds failed to make postseason last year.
This year, Pekka Rinne has continued to perform admirably, and though his career stats have dipped slightly, a 2.36 GAA and 0.911 SV% on the season isn't bad. In three games against the Blackhawks he has posted a a 1-2 W-L record, a 2.33 GAA and a 0.923 SV%. Of course, 3 games is hardly a suitable sample size, and all of those games occured in the first half of the season--a long, long time ago in a place far, far away or something, so let's look at his more recent record.
In the 17 games that he started since the Olympic break, Rinne has a 1.94 GAA and a 0.932 SV%. He also posted 4 of 7 shutouts in this stretch, and with a 12-4-1 record it definitely seems as though he's benefited from the 2-week break.
Then again, separating his records against playoff teams versus non-playoff teams and it appears that he (and the team) struggles against tougher competition. Against non-playoff teams Rinne has 3 shutouts and a 7-1-0 record, but against teams destined for a postseason run, his record falls to 5-3-1 and a 2.44 GAA.
That doesn't make Rinne any less dangerous a goalie in the playoffs, of course. The Finn plays to his size and can take out a lot of space for attackers. He can play out of his mind and steal a game, as well, and starting out strong may be enough to frustrate the Blackhawks and force them to play more desperately instead of more smartly.
Should Rinne falter in between the pipes, the Predators have Dan Ellis to turn to. He puts up decent numbers for a back-up, but has only played 4 games since the Olympic break. That isn't very rare, considering most teams try to buckle down with one starting goalie towards the end of the season.
Against Chicago, Ellis also holds a 1-2 W-L record, with a 2.67 GAA and a 0.918 SV%. As with Rinne, the SV% is a little bit inflated given how much Chicago tends to shoot towards the net. And as with Rinne, these games came early in the year--it's hard to predict how either will play against the Hawks this time around.
What is evident in his last 10 games, however, is that Ellis' record against playoff (1-4) and non-playoff (4-1) teams isn't that much different from Rinne's.