- Nashville’s goalie controversy intensifies We all know about Nashville’s struggle to find a true #1 goalie since Vokoun left the Music City. Chris Mason fell apart, Dan Ellis stepped up. Ellis struggled, Pekka Rinne got hot, etc. etc. The biggest problem was that there was no consistency between the pipes, especially early in the season.
But this year is a bit of a different goalie controversy. The Predators seem to have a pair of #1 goaltenders in Rinne and Ellis. Ellis surprisingly started the first two games this year. He won both and looked very sharp and determined contrary to last year. Last night, Rinne got his first chance to get his job back that he earned late last season. He played unbelievably in a losing effort, making 41 saves on 42 shots. ‘Peks’ was everywhere in the crease, and was a step ahead of the Sabres forwards. The Preds just couldn’t get him the goal support.
This is a great problem for Barry Trotz & company to have. The last two years neither goalie would step up until after Christmas. This season is a different story, and could be the difference between making the playoffs or not. When J.P. Dumont, Colin Wilson, and Jordin Tootoo return from injury, the team’s offense should start rolling. It’s a great sign that Ellis and Rinne are on their A-game from the get-go.
- It could be a long year in Sunrise I said all summer long that the Panthers lost more than just Jay Bouwmeester to free agency. They lost a very reliable backup in Craig Anderson, a 20-plus-goal-scorer in Richard Zednik, among others. GM Randy Sexton replaced those pieces with decent veterans, put it likely won’t be enough to keep them in the playoff discussion. The new-look defense has been atrocious to start the season. Poor Tomas Vokoun has been stuck on an island, facing 40 shots a game and a lot of prime scoring chances.
If it weren’t for the opening night shootout win in Finland, the ‘Cats would be one of three winless teams in the league. They suffered an embarrassing 7-2 loss in Carolina, and then followed it up with a disappointing home opener last night. If this is the team that the Panthers are going to roll with all year, I’m telling you it will be a long year for Peter DeBoer’s team.
- Heatley may be the missing piece… San Jose hasn’t exactly been consistent to start the season, but they have been very impressive when on top of their game. This week, they spotted teams lead in the first period, and came back to win all of ‘em except in Los Angeles. A big ingredient to their success has been Dany Heatley. He’s been as dominant as he could be next to Joe Thornton, tallying 10 points in his first 5 games in teal. He scored a hat trick the other night, and added another goal against Minnesota last night. The risky trade by Doug Wilson to bring in ‘Heater’ is paying off through the first two weeks. Sharks fans are just hoping it will make a difference when the games count the most.
- No hangover for the Penguins?? Coming into this season, I was expecting to see Pittsburgh get off to a sluggish start after winning the Stanley Cup. That hasn’t been the case minus the Phoenix game where they failed to make it to the arena that night. They’ve rebounded very well from that loss, picking up a pair of impressive wins in Philadelphia and Toronto. Crosby is scoring goals like he did in the postseason, Malkin is becoming the usual assist-machine, and Fleury has played well to start the 09/10 campaign. They have a chance to string together some wins this week as they’ll face Ottawa, Carolina, and Tampa Bay.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.