Mar 30, 2010, 6:30 PM EDT
Everyone and their creepy uncle is now aware that the Detroit Red Wings are, well, red hot. After all, the team that went to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals series rarely finds itself completely off the radar, right?
The Predators and their criminally underrated goalie Pekka Rinne are absolutely on fire right now. Just like Detroit, Nashville is 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
There are three big things that stand out for the Predators. First, the performance of Rinne. Check out his stats from his last nine games. (Click the button to enlarge the stats at your leisure)
Four shutouts in nine games. No more than 3 goals allowed in any of those contests. Aside from that 3-1 loss against Dallas, he’s had a good-to-amazing performance in every game.
One other fact popped out about Nashville’s impressive streak: they’re not getting any help from their powerplay. It’s all hard work (also known as 5-on-5 play). They failed to score a PP goal in their last six games, going a horrendous 0-for-16. In the entire 10 game stretch, they’ve only scored twice on the man advantage. Yet they managed an amazing 8-1-1 record without getting those easy skill goals.
Of course, their penalty kill is carrying its own weight though. They haven’t allowed a PP goal in four games and only allowed three in the last 10 games. Clearly this team is scraping by with its all-D, no-O approach.
Certainly, a deep playoff run is always easier with an explosive offense. Still, considering the fact that the playoffs account for a time when passing lanes clog faster than Fat Albert’s cartoon arteries and selfless acts like shot blocking become crucial, the Predators might be the dark horse team of the playoffs.
And sooner or later, pundits will have to give Rinne his due.
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