Kukla's Korner

A new #1 in the Nashville net?

Earlier this month, the most overlooked aspect of the thrilling comeback 5-3 win over Pittsburgh was how Barry Trotz pulled Dan Ellis once the Preds were down 3-0; the explanation from the coach was that he was simply trying to “change the luck” of the game, and that the move wasn’t a reflection on Ellis’ play.  The same phrasing was used again relative to Saturday night’s debacle against Atlanta, and Trotz once again verbally backed up his #1’s work.

“I felt bad for Dan,” coach Barry Trotz said Saturday night. “I can’t fault Dan that we gave up three goals in four shots. I was just trying to change the momentum again.”

So why, then, is Pekka Rinne getting the start tonight against New Jersey, the last game prior to the All-Star break?  Fatigue certainly can’t be an issue, so the only conclusion to be drawn is that Trotz thinks that Rinne gives the team a better shot at winning tonight.  That can’t be good news for Ellis.

It would appear that the “Curse of the Starter” has indeed struck, as it’s called by Rachel over at What the Puck.  Paul Nicholson also worried about how Trotz was handling the goaltending situation recently, and based on what we’ve seen over the last two weeks, it’s an open question as to what exactly the goaltending status is in Nashville.

It’s high time, then, to chime in with a review of the Nashville goaltending compared to the forecasts I made at the start of the season:

 ActualPaceForecast  Comment
   Player GP W L GAA Save Pct. GP WL GP W LGAASave Pct. 
 Dan Ellis3010182.920.8995518336030272.450.914 Stumbles lately have cost him C-
 Pekka Rinne201072.340.9143618132813122.70.905 .921 Sv% in January. B+

Yes, Rinne’s numbers have been better so far, and his 4 shutouts so far have been sorely needed to support a team which is having so much trouble scoring goals these days.  That said, Trotz has shown little commitment to Ellis as a #1 guy, and yanking a goaltender to simply “change the luck” is a desperation ploy.  There are times when a team is getting shelled and you pull the goaltender because he doesn’t deserve to face the barrage that his teammates are giving up, but nothing along that line has been communicated by the coach.

Is this, then, more of a desperation case, wherein Trotz is just madly pushing buttons in an attempt to get anything positive out of this squad?  Frustration must surely be mounting in the front office, as the Predators are coming perilously close to falling out of playoff contention in the West.  They may be only scant points out of the 8th spot, but there are so many teams battling alongside that other contenders are picking up points every night.  Getting punked at home by the 2nd-worst team in the NHL is hardly a sign that this team is fit for that battle.

Filed in: Nashville Predators, | On the Forecheck | Permalink


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