Rinne’s Struggles Continue, Anti-Tanking In Fantasy Leagues
The whiteout in Winnipeg had no shortage of goals, with at least three goals in each period. It kind of reminded me of a World Junior game, which can be so exciting to watch because of the wild momentum swings. This series is really delivering in terms of excitement!
Nashville jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, quieting the rabid Winnipeg crowd. Mike Fisher, P.K. Subban, and Austin Watson all struck for the Preds. In spite of the early struggles, the Jets stuck with Connor Hellebuyck anyway.
The first-period deficit seemed to serve as a wake-up call for the Jets in the second period, as they fired four pucks past Pekka Rinne. The Jets controlled the play particularly during this period, outshooting Nashville 16 to 6. Two of those goals came off the stick of Dustin Byfuglien, who later added an assist to give him a three-point game.
Filip Forsberg tied the game for the Preds in the third period, but Blake Wheeler put the Jets in the Game 3 driver’s seat for good with a power-play goal with five minutes to play. Wheeler also added an empty-net goal to give him a three-point game as well. Paul Stastny was another Jets’ player to earn three points with a goal and assist of his own.
If I’m a Nashville fan, then I’m worried about the play of Pekka Rinne. The odds-on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, Rinne has allowed at least three goals in each of the three games against Winnipeg and four goals in two other playoff games. In particular he fell victim to two cross-ice pass goals in the second period, although the usually vaunted Nashville defense also looked very suspect on those goals.
Rinne’s playoff goals-against average now sits at 3.08 and save percentage at .901, both of which are league-worst numbers among starting goalies for the eight remaining teams. That’s strikingly similar to his split against the Jets during the regular season (4 GP, 3.52 GAA, .901 SV%). I know that the Preds have also been scoring on Hellebuyck both in the regular season and in this series. But as the series wears on, I don’t think that style of play favors the Predators against a squad as high-powered as Winnipeg’s. If Rinne can’t reduce the number of goals allowed, then the Preds’ season will fade into the night in this round. That won