It wasn’t a full-blown criticism, but Pekka Rinne minced no words in explaining why the Preds have just five wins in their first 11 games.
“It’s tough to win when you don’t score goals,” he told The Tennessean following Sunday’s 3-0 loss to Chicago. “This is the third time in 11 games now that we got shut out.”
Nashville sits dead last in a number of the NHL’s most significant offensive stat categories: goals per game (1.83), shots on goal per game (21.1) and third-period goals (five).
Even worse? The Preds have 22 goals on the year, nine of which came in two games against St. Louis (a 4-3 shootout loss on Jan. 21 and a 6-1 win on Feb. 5).
Taking away the St. Louis games, Nashville has just 13 goals in nine games.
Obviously, that’s not good.
Rinne’s in an awkward position because, as a goalie, it always sounds bad when you get after your teammates for not providing enough offense.
But given his impressive numbers — a 1.92 GAA and .929 save percentage — it’s easy to understand why he’s frustrated about having just four wins to his credit.
“Obviously, my job is to keep the pucks out of our end and our net,” he explained. “It was just one of those nights. [Chicago] created some momentum in the second period. They got the first goal and right after that got the second one, and that was pretty much the game right there.
“But overall, obviously we’ve got to create a little bit more [offense]. We can’t hide behind any excuses like this being a back-to-back game or anything like that.”
Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.
It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.
Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.
The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.
Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.
They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.
This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.
You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.
With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.
Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).
In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:
Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.
Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.
So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.
The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.
No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.
He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.
There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.
So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.
Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.
(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)