In this installment of Season in Review, we take a look at the performance of the two goaltenders that saw time in Nashville - Dan Ellis and Pekka Rinne. It was a bit of a bumpy road up until the Olympic break in February, but the situation in net has been just about the strongest in the league since then, which is all anyone can ask for, really.
After the jump, season statistics, the ups and downs, and a few thoughts on the goaltending season that was.
#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Nov 03, 1982
|2009 - Pekka Rinne||57||3181||31||16||136||2.57||1507||1371||.910||7|
While Rinne's regular season ended with a flourish, Predators fans wondered early on if the Calder-worthy rookie campaign from Pekka was just a fluke. Rinne struggled right from the get-go, losing four straight (along with a stinker against Ottawa where he got the win), giving up 4, 3, 3, and 5 goals. He didn't right the ship completely in November, but received the lion's share of the starts thanks to the skaters playing so well in front of him during a 7 game winning streak.
Leading up to the Olympic break, Rinne saw action, but it was staggered and he rarely started consecutive games. If there's anything we've learned about the big Finn, its that he takes a couple of games in a row to really get going. He rotated starts consistently until March, and his statistics suffered for it.
In February, Pekka Rinne was snubbed by the staff of the Finnish Olympic team, getting beaten out by Antero Niittymaki from Tampa Bay though Rinne had marginally better statistics and was coming off a sensational rookie campaign. Apparently going home and playing pond hockey did something for him...
Because in March, there was no one better anywhere:
|March - Pekka Rinne||14||797||9||3-1||137||1.81||365||341||.934||4|
Rinne won two 'Star of the Week' awards from the NHL, and was statistically better than Jimmy Howard though somehow he didn't come away with a 'Star of the Month' award. April was more of the same, as Pekka went 3-1 to close out the regular season.
Final Grade: B
The total body of work and final stats keep me from going higher, but Rinne was everything Nashville needed down the stretch in order to lock up a playoff spot.
#39 / Goalie / Nashville Predators
Jun 19, 1980
|2009 - Dan Ellis||31||1715||15||13||77||2.69||848||771||.909||1|
Dan Ellis' year was one of ups and downs. At times he was Nashville's most consistent goaltender, showing a much better ability to adapt to the baffling rotation that Barry Trotz instituted for much of the middle part of the season. Ellis' ability to play strong while cold saved Nashville a lot of heartache when Pekka Rinne was still finding his game.
There were times when I thought that Dan might have surpassed Rinne as the team's number one goaltender, such as the 2-1 win over the New York Rangers in which he turned away nearly everything and put up several highlight reel saves, or the 2-1 victory over Atlanta (which earned him another start).
Speaking of the Atlanta game, though, it was after this when Ellis began his descent into some horrible territory. None of us want to relive the San Jose Debacle, but Ellis backstopped the team to a six goal third period collapse, and that pretty much put a close to his 2009-10 campaign. Justifiably, he wasn't able to work his way back into the coach's good graces between the egg he laid and the incredible run by Rinne. Trotz only went with him once more, in a game he won against the Panthers which may have been his last game in the crease as a Predator.
Ellis is an unrestricted free agent after this year, due for a raise, and is probably looking for a starting job. Its doubtful that Nashville keeps him with three promising goaltenders in the pipeline (Chet Pickard, Mark Dekanich, and Anders Lindback in Europe). There's no doubt Dan has been a good and at times fantastic 'keeper for Barry Trotz, but much like Chris Mason, he looks to be squeezed out.
Final Grade: C
He had his moments, but the soft goals and occasional meltdown proved to be too much for the fans and coaching staff alike.