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- Previewing the Ducks and Preds first round match-up…
1/4 of the forwards out, Grant recalled, Ellis to start, yada yada yada…
- Updated: October 8, 2009
Get out a pen and paper. You may want to take notes.
Last season’s leading scorer JP Dumont (concussion), tough guy Jordin Tootoo (groin), rookie Colin Wilson (groin) are all out for tonight’s home opener against the Colorado Avalanche. Look for Patric Hornqvist to pick up where he left off, filling in for Dumont on the top line with captain Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan.
But we’re not finished…
Despite outright earning the starting goaltender job with his stellar play last season, Pekka Rinne will not start tonight. Head Coach Barry Trotz has opted for Dan Ellis for tonight’s contest, giving the “back-up goalie” the starters duties for the second time in as many games.
Did you get all that?
Oh, and there will be a test later.
Given Ellis’ stats in the pre-season, attitude during training camp and history against his old team, it’s not hard to see why Trotz chose him to start against the Dallas Stars last Saturday night. Tonight’s game, however, is a little more perplexing.
It’s not like Ellis did poorly. He had 38 saves on 40 shots and even snagged four of the five shots taken by the Stars in the shootout. At a glance, a pretty stellar outing for the former (uh, current?) starting goaltender. The biggest concern was the poor decision to play the puck after a routine dump-in from beyond the blueline. Instead of freezing the puck – which would’ve been, again, routine – he decided to play it up the middle of the ice, a cardinal sin in the goaltending world. In what was basically a one-timer, Dallas Stars forward James Neal made no mistake and accepted the gift-wrapped puck Ellis had given him for his Happy Opening Night present.
That decision alone would warrant most coaches to opt for a different goalie in their next game. But not Trotz. He obviously believes Ellis gives the Predators their best chance to win.
Perhaps Trotz is glancing at each netminder’s history. Ellis, coming into Saturday’s season opener, had been 4-3-0 with a stellar 2.08 goals against average and a respectable .912 save percentage against Dallas in his career. As far as tonight’s matchup goes, Ellis is 1-1-0 all-time against Colorado but, in that one loss, he only allowed a single goal. The victory was a shutout so he boasts a .983 SV% and a near-perfect 0.50 GAA against the Avalanche organization.
Rinne, by contrast, has put up a sub-par stat line against Colorado. He’s 1-2-0 against them all-time with a forgettable .857 SV% and an average 3.00 GAA. Of course, those numbers can be a little deceiving as he’s 1-1-0 with a 2.00 GAA when playing the Avs at home, having faced 21 shots and saving 19 of them each time. It’s when he went into the Pepsi Center in Denver that he had an issue, allowing five goals on 21 shots. Oh, and those five goals allowed were without future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic in the lineup.
So, what we’re saying is, if each goalies history is indeed dictating their workload, look for Ellis to start on November 25 and January 22.
Since we’re on this “goaltender vs. team-x all-time” thing, Colorado goalie Craig Anderson has played against Nashville eight times in his career, going 2-2-0 with a mediocre 2.69 GAA and an even more mediocre .902 SV%. That being said, it should be noted that Anderson has faced two of the NHL’s proverbial power houses in his first two games and beat them both. He allowed a mere two goals to the highly talented San Jose Sharks and then followed that by shutting out the Vancouver Canucks. Not a bad start for a team who’s supposed to spend the majority of the season at the bottom of the Western Conference.
But, then again, the Predators are supposed to be keeping them company down in the cellar. So, in a way, tonight’s game could be looked at as the battle of the worst…. who’s among the best…. right now…