The Nashville Predators have seen three of their five games this season go to the shootout, and all three have ended as losses. Pekka Rinne, usually a very solid goaltender in shootout situations, has been in net for all three, as well as an additional 3-0 loss at the hands of the St. Louis Blues. For a Predators team looking for answers after this rough start, they need to look beyond Rinne when assigning blame.
Despite what his record might show, Rinne has actually played very well so far this season (2.36 GAA). In all but one of his appearances, the Predators have been outshot by their opponent and they seem to be doing little to help on the offensive end, especially in the shootout. In the season-opening loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, only David Legwand converted his attempt. In losses to the Blues and the Anaheim Ducks, none of the Predators converted their chances. The Predators are averaging just two goals per game, and their defense seems to really be missing Ryan Suter. Other than Ryan Ellis and Kevin Klein, no Nashville defenseman has contributed on the offensive end so far.
If Nashville wants to reach the playoffs, they need to find a way to get two points out of more of their games. The Central Division will be tough again this season, with the Chicago Blackhawks and Blues off to great starts, and the Detroit Red Wings starting to find their groove. There is lots of blame to go around for the slow start so far this season, but Rinne’s name should be nowhere on that list.