Game 7 between the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators in the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs had all the makings of classic Game 7 but unfortunately it fell rather flat. That's not to say that it was not an excellent effort from the Winnipeg Jets, quote the contrary, but after just a little over 10 minutes of play it already felt like the game was largely decided.
The Jets came flying out of the gate with two quick goals that shocked the Predators as well as their usually boisterous fans at Bridgestone Arena, but it wasn't so much the fact that the goals were scored, but rather how they were scored, that seemed to suck the air and the life out of the building. The two goals didn't come as the result of some beautiful offensive plays from the Winnipeg Jets, nor where they the product of some wild deflection or a hectic battle in front of the net, the two goals were largely the product of poor goaltending courtesy of Nashville Predators star goaltender Pekka Rinne.
Rinne gave up two goals on just seven shots and he gave them up in less than 11 minutes, the kind of goaltending that leaves your team with very little hope of winning against a tough defensive team like the Jets. The first goal from Tyler Myers appeared to come from an impossible angle, but despite that it managed to beat Rinne who had failed to properly seal off the gap between his body and the goalpost. It was the kind of mistake that you do not expect from a goaltender like Rinne, and perhaps more importantly it was the kind of mistake that is absolutely unforgivable in a Game 7 situation.
The second goal wasn't much better, although in this case you could argue that Rinne should have been able to count on some help from his defense. It was Winnipeg Jets' veteran center Paul Stasny whoi recorded the second goal and he did so after picking up his own rebound on a failed wrap around attempt, a rebound that he put behind Rinne to give the Jets an early 2 - 0 lead. Rinne struggled with the first shot from Stasny despite the fact that it was a relatively weak effort, and even worse Rinne seemed to have no idea where the puck had gone after he gave up the rebound on the play. The result was an easy goal for Stasny and the second straight soft goal given up by Rinne.
Head coach Peter Laviolette immediately pulled Rinne after that second goal and instead put in back up goaltender Juuse Saros. It was immediately evident that this could be the way the season ends for Rinne, but there are now rumors that it may very well be the way that his career as a member of the Nashville Predators come to a close as well.
Sportsnet insider Nick Kypreos was highly critical of Rinne's play during a segment on the Canadian broadcast this evening and he stated flatly that he believes Rinne may be done in Nashville if the Predators fail to comeback in Game 7. As we all know now they did in fact fail to make it back into the game.
"I am just shocked at Pekka's play in that first period. They better come back and find a way to win or I think this will be it for Pekka there in Nashville, I don't think he can rebound off of this."
Do you believe this is the end of Rinne as a Predator? If the Preds do look to trade him this summer I can think of a lot of teams who struggled with goaltending this season that would love to have a player like Rinne, even at this stage of his career. I mean just look at the state of the Flyers goaltending this season, it seems like they alone would ensure Rinne would quickly find a new home.