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Game 7 Letdown

A pretty horrible Game 7.

May 11, 2018 - 1:15 pm

There is nothing better than a Game 7. Especially in hockey. Everything on the line for 60 minutes of end to end action. Great goals. Incredible saves. Guys laying it all on the line. And a crowd that’s going ballistic the whole night. And if you’re really lucky, you get overtime. That is the absolute best. 

Except last night wasn’t the best. Last night, was actually pretty horrible by Game 7 standards. 

Because the Winnipeg Jets rolled into Smashville and dominated. Sheryl Crow sang the national anthem, Eddie George waved a towel, and then Pekka Rinne waved a white flag. Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh. Then again, maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s not harsh enough.

But 8:40 into the first period, this happened.

I’m going to say that’s the softest playoff goal I’ve ever seen allowed. And especially damaging since I also said yesterday, whoever scores first is going to win that game.  Then Rinne allows maybe the softest goal in playoff history. A disastrous start for the Preds.

I mean… That is exactly the kind of goal that you can’t give up in a Game 7. And if it was insane to see Rinne, a Vezina Trophy finalist, concede one like that, then it would be  truly stunning to see him do it again. And he did.

And then Rinne’s night was done. And Nashville was done. The team, the fans, the season. Down 2-0, Predators head coach Peter Laviolette yanked the legend from the game to get a quick breather for his team without using his timeout and to get some life in the group and, frankly, to get Rinne the hell out of the game. Conceding one soft goal is a problem, two is a nightmare. And being on the wrong end of the fastest hook in Game 7 history is the absolute worst. 

It was worse than awful, it was, as Winnipeg goalie Connor Hellebuyck said, “heartbreaking.” That says something when the opposing goalie is heartbroken watching you get pulled from the game. And it was heartbreaking. 

As Rinne himself said, "The biggest moment of the season, it's a terrible feeling. You let your teammates down, and that's what happened tonight. That's tough to swallow."

For all the talk of Rinne potentially being too old, he didn’t look it, until the worst possible moment. And then he looked really old and really slow. Maybe it was bad luck. Or a lack of focus. But he looked like a shot fighter. The former champ who steps between the ropes one night and suddenly has lost it all. The fighter who can’t land any shots nor slip any either. A guy who’s shot. That’s Rinne.

I mean, I’d love to say, it was just one really bad night. But the guy was pulled three times in the series. And as far as it being one really bad night. All right. Fine. Just as long as you say, that really bad night was the WORST NIGHT EVER. Because it was.  Because no goalie in the history of the league had ever gotten a quicker hook in a Game 7 than Rinne did. That’s how bad that night was. The worst night ever for a goalie. In one of the most important games of his and all of their lives. 

Meanwhile, the Jets had it. They were feeling it. They were causing problems. And they were making themselves at home on of the toughest joints in the league. Down 2-0, that arena was shocked. 

Hell, I was shocked and I say that as someone who never really bought into Nashville, but more on that in a second. The Predators were just sleepwalking through that first period. That is, until PK Subban got a look with just over four minutes left

2-1 Winnipeg. Okay. Now we’ve got ourselves a game. Actually, no we don’t. Because Winnipeg went up 3-1 at the 17:50 mark of the second. And then it was over. Because Nashville just wasn’t going to score on Connor Hellebuyck last night. My man might look like Henry Thomas, but he was playing like Patrick Roy. 

They tacked on a fourth and an empty-netter in the third period for the final score of 5-1. Winnipeg winning in Nashville. But don’t be surprised. I’m not. The Jets won three out of four games in Nashville in this series. And they won by huge margins. They didn’t fluke their way to this win. They earned it. They deserved it. They were the better team. As I said all along. 

And now the Jets are hosting Vegas in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals tomorrow night. So how pumped are you, Winnipeg?!? React to me! 

I wanna hear from Swan River! Selkirk! Winkler! Across the prairie provinces, how are you celebrating?!? Thompson! Mystery Lake! Unorganized Division number 22!!! Are you throwing on your old Dale Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen sweaters!?!

Flin Flon - are you partying at the Whitney Forum? REACTION!