At this point, I must be a glutton for punishment. I root for many teams in many leagues and have seen three lose championship games in half a year. First Alabama football’s quarterback plays awfully, causing the defense to get tired from being on the field most of the time and blow a sizable lead in the National Championship, then the Falcons choke away an even bigger lead in the Super Bowl, and now the Predators have lost the Stanley Cup Finals because their goalie, Pekka Rinne seemed to lose whatever he had in the playoffs.
After the three rounds of looking like the best goalie in the NHL, Rinne suddenly played awfully in Games 1 and 2. What happened? Quick goal bursts were allowed in both games that proved the deciding factor. Sure we only scored once in Game 2, but that’s probably because Rinne’s bad play sapped our confidence.
Rinne seemed to return to form in Games 3 and 4 at home, but then we had a epic meltdown in Pittsburgh. We lost that one 6-0. We finished this up by losing a defensive masterpiece in Nashville. I wasn’t surprised. While both Rinne and Matt Murray were brick walls in this game, I noticed that Rinne was being forced to move about to stop the puck a lot more than Murray was.
I’m not going to blame the refs. There are some who will and have. But while I generally view “you can’t leave it to the zebras” as an excuse for the corrupt (and don’t even think you trust the sports pundits who will always lie about the importance of the preseason for ratings’ sake on this), the reality is that we’d have just been slaughtered once again in Pittsburgh where Rinne protected the net about as well as cartoon security guards protect banks. That is what really lost us this series.
Rinne was inconsistent throughout the regular season, so perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising. He has had hip problems throughout his career and will turn 35 next season. That’s not too old, but combined with a bad hip… while Rinne is still a solid goalie, you gotta wonder how much longer he can go. Juuse Saros better be ready soon just in case.
Despite this disappointing outcome, I am optimistic that we really have begun a Cup window. Yes, despite the heartbreak my teams have given me.
Just one thing for this team’s newly passionate fanbase, though: we seem to have subpar regular seasons and good postseasons, so don’t worry about it if we come out flat next fall. Just keep calm and hate Chicago and Dallas! Welcome to Smashville!