Pekka Rinne in Hart Trophy discussion?
It's not like the Nashville Predators haven't shown they're capable of scoring. Before Monday night's five-goal outburst against the Dallas Stars, Nashville also had a five-goal effort against the Colorado Avalanche and scored six against the St. Louis Blues in early February.
They're certainly capable. But lately, it just didn't seem likely. The Predators entered Monday night's win having been shut out in consecutive games.
Goalie Pekka Rinne has just five regulation losses this season. His goal support in those five regulation losses? Zero. The Predators were shut out in every single one.
So it had to be a good feeling for the Predators to support their goalie a bit when he allowed four goals for the second consecutive game and still earn him the win.
"It's great for Peks to get a win. He always wins tight games for us, and he always does a great job," said Nashville defenseman Roman Josi, whose four points exceeded the total number of points he'd registered this season before Monday night. "We wanted to get him some goals, and that's what we did."
In typical Predators fashion, they have climbed their way to No. 4 in the Western Conference with little fanfare. But there's question whether they can maintain it. Their power play that was so good last season has dropped to No. 24 in the league at 14.9 percent.
You always get an argument from Pekka: 'Shea Weber plays every night, and everybody else plays every night. Why shouldn't I play every night?' That's what the great ones do. They just want to play.” -- Barry Trotz, Nashville Predators coach
The Predators are averaging just 2.10 goals per game, No. 28 in the league, after finishing No. 8 in the league last season in goal scoring. They've been average at even strength and on the penalty kill.
It's clear that, unless Monday's game signaled some kind of offensive awakening, the Predators will be leaning on Rinne more than any team in the NHL leans on their goalie. He has played in 18 games already this season, with Ilya Bryzgalov the only goalie with more games played. The expectation is that the workload won't be eased as the playoffs get closer.
The Predators' playoff chances are firmly on his shoulders of his 6-foot-5 frame. And that's exactly the way he wants it.
To read more of Craig Custance's blog about how goalie Pekka Rinne is putting the Predators on his back, become an Insider today.