Through the first two games of this series, Pekka Rinne has seemed as unbeatable as Contra without the Konami Code. His Halak-ian performance has Canucks fans flipping pools, pressing panic buttons, and somehow blaming Luongo. With only two goals against the
Italian Finnish sensation, the Canucks are likely scratching their heads trying to figure out what it takes to get past his event horizon glove. They don’t need to look far. In round one, Rinne was more sieve than sensation, as the Anaheim Ducks scored 20 goals in their 6 game series, averaging 3.33 goals per game. Rinne’s save percentage was an unflattering .883. How did they do it? Through the magic of online highlights, I can show you!
Ducks Goals on Pekka Rinne in Round One
Not an auspicious start, as the only goal scored against Rinne in game one came on a five-on-three powerplay for the Ducks. Given the rate at which penalties have been called in this series, the probability of such an event occurring is approximately 3720 to 1. Even with the five-on-three powerplay, Rinne makes a nice save on the initial goalscoring opportunity, but leaves himself completely out of position as Saku Koivu rounds the net and feeds Selanne at the side of the goal. It looks like he attempted to catch the initial shot and seemed surprised when it turned into a rebound instead.
Well, this is disheartening. I had hoped for some reasons for optimism, but two goals in I seem to have learned that the only way to beat Pekka Rinne is on a five-on-three powerplay. This particular goal features a beautiful cross-ice saucer-pass from Saku Koivu to a lurking Corey Perry. Rinne didn’t have a chance.
Yes, another powerplay goal, though this one is only a one-man advantage. This goal comes about from a blocked shot by a Nashville defenseman, as Selanne nonchalantly coasts into the perfect spot on the ice to take advantage of it. Note Rinne reacting to the initial shot and the netfront presence of Corey Perry preventing Rinne from getting a clear view of the puck. Rinne actually shrinks lower into his butterfly to see the puck, leaving plenty of room upstairs for Selanne to score.
An even-strength goal! Ryan creates this opportunity by beating his defender with speed and going hard to the net. Getzlaf just flips it towards the front of the net off the rush and Ryan tips it in. Not a single one of these goals has been on a clean shot.
Another goal created by going hard to the net, this one is a little odd: after the initial shot by Getzlaf, the Nashville defense appears to lose all interest in covering him, leaving him wide open to put in his own rebound. Getzlaf’s opportunity is created when Shane O’Brien gets over-aggressive and takes himself out of the play to make a hit. Getzlaf deftly slips the check and heads straight for the net, where Perry immediately hits him with a pass. Since the final goal of game two was into an empty net, we move on to…
This is a classic Selanne powerplay goal, as he surreptitiously slips into the slot and gets a perfect pass from Perry. The goal also features some not-so-good penalty killing. You can’t take your eyes off Selanne in that situation. You just can’t. Note how the backdoor play negates Rinne’s biggest advantage, his sheer size. Also note: it’s Shane O’Brien in the penalty box.
Can’t blame Rinne on this one, as the puck takes an odd bounce off the boards and ends up directly on Selanne’s stick in front of an open net. I love how, before anyone else seems to even know where the puck is, Selanne’s already taken a stride towards where the puck is going.
After picking up a turnover at the blueline, Beleskey dumps the puck around the boards and heads straight for the front of the net. He gets position on his check, then somehow manages to get his stick on the puck while falling to the ice. Again, not a single one of these goals has been on a clean shot that Rinne has seen. There are not one, but two Ducks in front of the net on this goal.
Fowler rifles a slapshot after a Perry pass neatly bounces off a Predator penalty killer right to him. More importantly, take note of Getzlaf’s positioning in front of Rinne. Rinne is forced to look to his right to see past Getzlaf, so Fowler shoots to Rinne’s left. Getzlaf gets out of the way, Rinne can’t reach the shot. It even goes in glove side.
After a turnover in the Nashville end, Jason Blake goes hard to the net and takes a low shot from in close. The rebound comes out to Koivu, who beats Rinne. Note how Blake’s drive to the net draws his defender right into Rinne, making it difficult for the netminder to react to Koivu’s shot. Also note that the rebound comes off his blocker side. Rinne is much more likely to give up rebounds if shots go low to his blocker where he can’t get his glove on them.
This goal should be encouraging for Canucks fans, as Getzlaf and Selanne manage to beat Rinne with a bit of patented Wizardous Sedinerie: the slap-pass. Getzlaf winds up for the one-timer with Perry screening in front. Rinne goes down, anticipating the shot, but the puck is instead directed towards Selanne in the slot who tips it past Rinne. Notice also how quickly the puck is moved around the point on the powerplay to where Getzlaf has an open shooting lane. The Canucks had difficulty getting shots through from the point last game: the puck movement here should be noted.
Is that…? Was that…? Could that have been a bad goal? This is a bit of a soft one, as Perry lofts a backhand over Rinne’s shoulder, but note again how hard Brandon McMillan goes to the front of the net to provide a distraction. Because of McMillan, Rinne reacts very late to the shot.
This goal highlights an interesting tendency from Rinne. When he is screened, as he is here by two of his own players, he tends to duck down lower in an attempt to see the puck. When he does so, he leaves a lot more room in the top half of the net. Getzlaf snipes that opening with a beautiful shot, but what creates the opening is the traffic in front.
In the sixth and final goal of game four for the Ducks, McMillan takes advantage of some atrocious defending by Cody Franson. The defending is so terrible that it’s clear McMillan has no idea what to do: Franson somehow manages to turn completely away from McMillan. This maneuver so confuses McMillan that he skates right into the defenseman before scrambling back to the puck and wristing it past a startled Rinne.
If Jason Blake can go to the front of the net, anyone can go to the front of the net. No excuses. Notice again how Rinne’s own defenseman is screening him. This time he stands up straighter to peer over the screen, meaning he can’t react in time to the tip from Blake. Whether he crouches lower or stands up straighter, he takes up less of the net.
Not much that can be learned from this one other than that a forward without a stick does not make a good defenseman. Ryan’s read in the defensive zone that starts this play is reminiscent of what we see regularly from Alex Burrows. And if it was ball hockey, Burrows would totally pull off those moves.
Before talking about the goal, note the orange men next to the penalty box. I wonder, did the Predators complain about them too? In any case, Blake scores this goal because he goes to the front of the net and Selanne manages to hook the puck to the front of the net while lying down on the ice. It’s a ridiculous pass, but the goal is made possible through the magic of going hard to the net.
This is another goal that Rinne probably wants back, as Selanne wheels out from behind the net and sneaks a backhand past him. The Canucks have tried to score on a few wraparounds, but Rinne is always able to get his pad over in time. Selanne, however, uses his speed to create enough time for himself to raise the puck. Also, because of the traffic in front, the defense and Rinne have to respect the possibility for a pass.
Another powerplay goal for the Ducks, as Blake gets to the front of the net and is in the perfect position to tip in the shot from Ryan. Again, note the quick moment of the puck on the powerplay before Ryan sees an opening. The Sedins tend to create a lot of movement from low to high on the powerplay, but it might be more effective against Rinne to move the puck more from side to side.
Keys to beating Rinne:
1. Draw penalties: 8 of the Ducks’ 20 goals were scored on the powerplay. The Predators are a disciplined team and the refs have been letting play go, but the Ducks managed to get 22 powerplay opportunities in their series. If the Canucks can get some sustained offensive pressure and keep moving their feet, they’ll draw penalties. Then, of course, they need to take advantage of them.
2. Don’t just settle for more shots. While the Ducks created some goals by just getting the puck on net and hoping for a tip-in or a rebound, they also created open-net opportunities through heady passing plays and intelligent positioning. The Canucks will need to take shots when the opportunity is right: they can’t afford to pass up good scoring opportunities, but they can’t force shots when a better option exists.
3. Go to the net. Hard. This is a simple one. Getting traffic in front of Rinne will force him to make himself smaller, creating opportunities for players with accurate shots to pick corners, as well as creating chances for tip-ins, rebounds, and broken plays. This isn’t about getting into his head, it’s about removing some of the advantages of his body. Only a couple of the goals scored against Rinne in round one were on clean shots: the Canucks will need to create rebounds and look for tip-ins. Five of the Ducks goals were scored on tip-ins and most of the goals featured some sort of presence in front of the net.
4. Be Teemu Selanne. Seriously, the guy scored 6 goals on Rinne in 6 games.
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