Not even Pekka Rinne can win a game by himself.
The final score reads “1-0,” but it should probably read “5-0.” Pekka Rinne, with 29 spectacular saves, was the only bright spot in an awful game for the Predators, as they were outclassed by Vancouver in every other conceivable way.
The Canucks completely dominated the Predators, and came away with a 1-0 win to give them the early lead in the series. There is only one positive thing to take out of this game for a Predators fan: Nashville played a terrible game through the first two periods (and most of the third), but still only lost by one goal.
Pekka Rinne was huge in this game. Vancouver never quite figured him out—even the one goal that was scored was an odd one that had to be reviewed (it bounced off the top of the net and came out, in real time it looked like it was no good, but thanks to replay the zebras got the call right). That is literally the only thing that anyone from Nashville did right.
Roberto Luongo, playing goalie opposite Rinne, had a pretty damn good night himself, gathering 20 saves. Nashville didn’t get nearly as many shots in as Vancouver, however, and most of their shots were heavily contested or had little chance of going in anyway, whereas most of Vancouver’s shots would have been scored on 90% of the other goalies in the NHL.
It sounds like a cop-out, but Nashville played like they were rusty. They didn’t even start looking remotely like the team we saw in the first round until the second part of the third period. Rinne was a stud, as he always is, but game one proved that he cannot do it alone.
The Predators were lazy in defending the Canucks coming into their scoring zone, and for most of the game the Preds just laid back and let Vancouver come and go as they please.
Obviously the story of Vancouver dominating Nashville has much to do with how well the Canucks played, that goes without saying. They played like they’re the number one seed, a team who has been at the head of the pack for just about the entire season. Nashville, however, played like they were lost. The Preds really seemed to look like they were fatigued—and they’re the ones who got rest!
It was an embarrassing game, and hopefully Coach Trotz can take all of the mistakes into account in adjusting his game plan for game two. The worst part is that the game plan wasn’t the worst part, it was the execution. Nashville just didn’t play with a purpose tonight. Hopefully we can chalk it up to rust and just say that our guys got it out of their system in this game. Because if the Predators keep playing this way and the Canucks are able to get some shots by Rinne (because they’re taking good shots, it’s just Pekka played a phenomenal game), things are going to get awfully ugly.
This game flat-out sucked, as a Nashville fan. It never felt like the Predators were going to win, not even early when it was 0-0 in the first period and most of the second period. That extra little something was missing, that mojo. It’s hard to explain, other than to say that the Predators simply were not on their “A” game, and Vancouver was on theirs. Other than Rinne, it looked like Vancouver belonged in a different league. They were playing circles around Nashville.
Christopher Higgins scored the only goal of the game (for Vancouver, obviously) at 12:14 in the second period.
Game two will be back in Vancouver on Saturday night at 8 PM (and can be seen on VS). Let’s hope the Predators pick up their play and try to slow down the Canucks.