Before this series began, I participated in a radio roundtable with some other writers (and John Buccigross) and discussed the potential outcome of the series. I picked the Predators to win it in five games, and the reason “His name is Pekka Rinne.” To translate that, that means “The Red Wings style will pepper the net with everything they have, and Rinne actually likes this. The Red Wings always outshoot the Predators. And Rinne likes to see more pucks than very few.”
The style of play the Wings employ gives the Nashville system fits. This is nothing new. The Detroit forwards throw everything at the Nashville net. The Predators rely on the counter attack enhanced by their speed and creating chances on the forecheck. Being outshot by Detroit shouldn’t surprise anyone who has followed this team.
During the course of the season series, Nashville was outshot by Detroit a combined 61 shots. Even the game in March which the Preds won 4-1… still outshot 32-27. The Predators did have the shot advantage one time this year, the 4-1 loss at home where Detroit had won the game before the start of the third period. Historically, this has been the trend.
Pekka Rinne has thrived when he sees more pucks his way. In one of the more inspiring games of the year, Rinne shut down a potent St. Louis Blues team to the point of frustration. Afterwards, he offered this bit of Scandinavian gold in the postgame interview:
“It was a party,” Rinne said with a wide smile after he made a season-high 42 saves. “It’s always fun. It keeps you in the game and you kind of get that flow going. … It gets easier.
“… You just have to be ready each night. It doesn’t matter what kind of game.”
That’s a scary thought. The worse the team plays, the better he plays. Rinne is a beast, and his style which is a mix of technique and desperation contained inside a large athletic frame is more than frustrating for the even the best in the game. The Predators will go as far as he can take them, and he doesn’t have to pitch the shutout anymore.
The offense is finally coming around. If Nashville can hang around through the first two periods tomorrow night, they have the tendency to wear down the Wings during the third. But don’t worry, Mr. Rinne, it will likely be another party headed your way Friday night.