Heading into the Stanley Cup Final the Nashville Predators star netminder was 1-5-2 against the Penguins and his .880 save percentage and 3.57 goals-against when facing Pittsburgh shooters are far and away his worst numbers against any team in the league.
The Pens chased the six-foot-five Finn Wednesday night and the Preds now find themselves down 0-2 in the series as the action heads back to Nashville for Game 3 Saturday. Rinne’s .778 save percentage and 4.00 GAA through two games has TVA Sports’ hockey insider Renaud Lavoie wondering what Rinne and Peter Laviolette’s team can do get back in the series before it’s too late.
“He’s not sharp. He’s not there mentally,” Lavoie told Jeff Blair on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “I don’t know if you remember but the worst goaltender at the World Cup for Team Finland was Pekka Rinne. He was awful, exactly like he is right now…You feel like the Pittsburgh Penguins, they have his number.”
Lavoie pointed out how undisciplined the Predators have been, which contributed to Rinne’s struggles Wednesday night. Nashville took seven minor penalties in a 4-1 loss. It’s amazing how quickly narratives can change during the playoffs considering Rinne was the Conn Smythe Trophy frontrunner following the conference finals.
“Pekka has been excellent for us all year long,” Laviolette said after Game 2. “There’s things that we could have done. All three goals in the third period were odd-man rushes.”
Lavoie also suggested the Predators need to “beat fire with fire” and shake up their lineup. One suggestion was possibly dressing P.A. Parenteau to inject more skill and goal potential than say a player like Cody McLeod. Parenteau was acquired by Nashville at the trade deadline but has only suited up for three post-season games. McLeod has one goal and 27 penalty minutes in 14 playoff games this year.