A Goaltending Conundrum
Let me preface this blog entry by saying that there are some days I wish I was David Poile. I envy his ability to make the tough calls and his genuine attempts at improving the Predators organization, not only for today, but for tomorrow as well. Sometimes I don't agree with all of Poile's decisions and wish desperately that I could be in charge so I could fix the messes he makes (well, they are messes by my way of thinking). That's just part of being a fan. I am pretty sure that there is not a single sports fan out there who is 100% satisfied with the decisions made by the GM of their favorite team. But today, I don't envy David Poile. Why? He has a goaltending migraine that is sure to last until next season. Let's take a look at the quick facts.
1.Rinne only has eight more starts than Ellis, essentially proving that Nashville's net minding is a platoon service rather than the duty of one man.
2. Ellis has a .913 save percentage while Rinne has a .903.
3. Rinne has a 2.77 GA, Ellis has a 2.58 GA.
4. Rinne has 20 Wins, Ellis has 12.
5. Both goaltenders are UFA at the end of the season.
6. Both goaltenders should have the opportunity to be starters on an NHL team.
It has been speculated that Poile will most likely have one of these goaltenders signed by the end of the Olympic Break. My question sports fans is, which one? These goaltenders have literally played even with one another. Neither of them have shown consistency or dominance enough make it clear that he should become “the guy.” If you watched the Rangers Predators game a couple nights ago, you saw Dan Ellis steal two points for the Predators. He was absolutely stellar in his play that night. Pekka Rinne was absolutely stellar five games ago in the Predators game against Phoenix. This is why the Predators' GM has a problem.
I don't envy Poile having to make a decision about which goaltender to keep for next season. Many in the hockey world are saying it is Rinne, hands down, but I wouldn't be too sure. Rinne will probably demand a larger paycheck with more years attached. Rinne also has more upside that will make him more attractive to other hockey organizations. Poile might end up moving Rinne at the deadline in favor of a young forward who can put the puck in the net (something Nashville is dying to have) rather than trade Ellis, who will probably still bring a good return, but probably not as good as Rinne. The biggest question is if either goalie will be part of a deal. Many fans don't want to see either goalie traded, which is a very understandable. Predator fans still have nightmares about Vokoun's freak blood clot at the end of the season a few years ago that prohibited him from playing in the playoffs, and well, the rest as they say is history!
It is hard to argue that trading Rinne is a good idea. He has shown incredible potential at times, being nothing short of a puck magnet at times. The bad news is that he will turn around the next night and let some heartbreaking soft goals in the net. Rinne is only 27, which means he still has plenty left in the tank. Ellis, on the other hand, is 29 and probably has reached his full potential.
If you watched the Predators vs Devils game last night, Rinne had a very pathetic game. The first New Jersey goal he over committed to one side, enabling the Devil player to flip the puck to the other side for an easy tally. In fairness to Rinne, Jordin Tootoo and Ryan Suter were extremely lax in their defense which really allowed the play to open up for an easy goal. The 2nd goal was snap shot that just made it over Rinne’s right side. A stoppable shot? I’d put it at about a 70% chance that this kind of shot is saved by either Rinne or Ellis. At that point in the game, the Predators were up 2-1 and that goal was key. Rinne has to make that stop in order to give his team momentum, and he failed to do so. The 3rd Devils goal was a simple wrist shot that Rinne HAS to stop at the NHL level. Yes, Kovalchuck, a very solid player shot it, but Rinne completely miss played the angle and the puck for what should have been a routine save.
What transpired next was honestly somewhat of a conundrum, as Devil fans started throwing hats on the ice. This made little to no sense for me because that was Kovalchuck’s first goal. Can anyone shed some light on that for me?
The Devils 4th goal was another over commitment by Rinne, but I am willing to give him a pass on this one. I don’t think he really had a chance of stopping the puck.
Rinne has lost four of his last five games with a .901 save percentage.
Ellis has only won three in his last six, good for a .9182 save percentage, including a crucial win against the Penguins right before the Olympic break.
The question of whether Poile trades one of his goaltenders, and if so, which one, remains a mystery all except to Poile himself. As difficult as this decision will be for him, he may need to borrow a NFL's decision making procedure …flip a coin!
About the Author
Written by Chris Rydburg
Chris currently attends my Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He hopes to one day be a high school teacher.