The Shutout Clause
By: Miranda Martin
In the first fourteen games of the Nashville Predators season, nearly half of them have gone into a shutout.
Six out of the total games have gone with a goose egg for either team. The stellar goaltending of Pekka Rinne gives him the NHL lead for most shutouts with three. He surpassed reigning goaltender Mike Smith, who had previously shut out the Predators, when Smith allowed three goals in the third period of last night’s game. The Nashville Predator’s not so productive offense has been shut out three times. Every game the Preds have lost in regulation has been due to an offensive shutout.
With all of these shutouts for the Predators, it has made for some impressive statistics. Rinne has saved 304 out of 324 total shots. The team is also ranked 1st overall for goals against, with a remarkable average 1.6 per game. At this rate, Rinne is on track to have 10 shutouts this season. The Predators last season only had 5 shutouts total, all credited again to Rinne.
However, the only games that the Predators haven’t earned a point in were the games that the offense didn’t score. While at first this seems promising and positive, the primary concern with this statistic is what happens when the opposing team scores. The offensive core has not been able to perform resiliently and get back on track after trailing. In past times, the Predators have not been able to convert to close out games. In fact, the first five games where the Predators scored first, they resulted in shootouts, three of which turned into losses.
One or two more shutouts may actually get the Predators out of the cellar for the offense. Steve Sullivan, speaking to the media after his new team’s loss to the Predators last night, said that Rinne is “definitely in the zone.” If Rinne can remain in that zone to give the Predators time to rebound their offense, this team could definitely get the momentum it needs. Also, maybe the team could begin to average at least 2 goals per game. They’re close at least, averaging 1.9 per game.
The Predators face the surprising Anaheim Ducks Saturday Night. The Ducks are ranked 2nd in the Western Conference, four points behind the dominating Chicago Blackhawks. The surprising goaltending of rookie and 30-year old Viktor Fasth has been the main story of the Ducks tremendous start. He has yet to lose a game in his six starts, and has recorded one shutout himself. Fasth may get the start against the Detroit Red Wings in their game tonight, but either way, the Predators need to be prepared for a hard start.
Faceoff is at 7 PM Saturday night. Limited tickets still remain available, but the Predators hope for their 20th consecutive sellout. It’d be great to have a sellout with a shutout… three times in a row.