With three full days before their next game, this makes a good time to take a look at how the Nashville Predators have performed. Today we'll start with the goaltenders, and follow up with the skaters over the next two days.
After the jump, let's take a look at how Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis have fared so far...
Widely assumed to be the #1 man heading into the season, Rinne had a poor training camp, failing to show the presence or consistency that is expected of a top netminder. He sat on the bench as Ellis got the nod in the season opener, which was as good a statement as any that he had more work to do before he could lay claim to the title of "#1 Starter".
Following a few up-and-down efforts, Rinne finally took control during last week's game at Minnesota; after Nashville had taken a 3-0 lead, Ellis gave up goals on the first three shots of the second period, which earned him a seat on the bench for the rest of the night. Rinne came in to make 12 saves and close out a 4-3 win, and since then, he's been spectacular. A 22-save shutout of Chicago followed by a 4-2 win over Dallas earned him NHL 2nd Star of the Week honors.
Can he carry this momentum forward, and become the game-changing, reliable force that so many of us have expected this year? Consistency is the hallmark of a franchise NHL goalie; after all, remember how Chris Mason won Player of the Week honors during the 1st week of the 2007-8 season? By mid-year, he was plagued by streaky play and the team turned to Dan Ellis to carry them into the playoffs.
I would certainly say that Rinne is following up his rookie campaign better than Steve Mason, his rival in Columbus who won the Calder Trophy last spring:
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||8||411||4||3||18||2.63||199||181||.910||1|
GP MIN W L GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2009 - Steve Mason
|2009 - Steve Mason||11||646||6||4||38||3.53||321||283||.882||0|
Pekka Rinne's grade: B
While not quite the forgotten man heading into this season, Ellis was expected by most outside observers to settle into the backup's role. But in characteristic style, Dan's making his best effort to capitalize on every opportunity given to him.
Right from the start of training camp he was the sharper goalie, and his start in Game #1 down in Dallas was a recognition of that effort. Like Rinne, however, a body of solid work has been interrupted by glaring, occasional gaffes. He last less than 7 minutes of the October 14 game in Dallas, giving up 3 goals on 3 shots, and experienced a similar bang-bang-bang sequence in last Wednesday's game at Minnesota, as noted above.
Rinne's play of late has kept Ellis out of the nets since then, but there's little doubt that whenever he does get back in, he'll be focused and ready for action. With both Rinne and Ellis facing unrestricted free agency next summer, there are millions of dollars out there for the taking - between that and the policy that Barry Trotz is using, whereby these guys earn each and every start, there's certainly no reason for either one to look ahead.
That's probably a good thing, given the fact that this team will scrape and claw alongside several contenders for a handful of Western Conference playoff berths in the spring.
|2009 - Dan Ellis||8||376||2||3||19||3.03||184||165||.897||0|
Dan Ellis' grade: C+