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A terrible end to a great year for Pekka Rinne

The Nashville Predators let the pressure of Game 7 get the best of them while the Winnipeg Jets came out both mentally and physically prepared for the crucial road game.

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne put together a terrific Vezina worthy season, but his campaign ended in disappointment in Game 7 against the Winnipeg Jets.

Rinne got the hook at the midway point of the first period after he allowed two incredibly soft goals on seven shots. Head coach Peter Laviolette had seen enough at that point and he decided it was time to go with Juuse Saros.
“I feel very much responsible for our season ending at this point,” Rinne said, per the Tennessean. “Tough to swallow, tough to understand. I can’t point out anything. Felt good, and no injuries and totally healthy. But total ups and downs throughout the playoffs. The biggest moment of the season, it’s a terrible feeling. You let your teammates down, and that’s what happened tonight.”

As cruel as it might be to point the finger at one player, it’s justified in this case. Rinne can’t give up the opening goal to Tyler Myers, he just can’t. Putting his team in a 2-0 hole certainly didn’t get things started on the right foot, either.

It’s a cruel end to a rather stellar season for the 35-year-old netminder, as he accumulated a 42-13-4 record with a 2.31 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage during the regular season. Those numbers dipped significantly in the playoffs.

Since Game 1 of last year’s Stanley Cup Final against Pittsburgh, he has a 2.99 goals-against-average and a .900 save percentage in 19 postseason contests. But the most surprising thing about Rinne’s disappointing playoff run is how much he struggled at Bridgestone arena:

Things change quickly in the NHL. As good as Rinne was during an 82-game stretch, there’s a chance that his time in Nashville could be coming to an end. That probably won’t happen next season because the veteran is under contract for one more year at $7 million.

Saros is scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer and he’ll command a raise from the $692,500 he made this season. The Preds will have to make a significant financial commitment to their younger goaltender, which could signal the end of Rinne’s tenure as their starter after the 2018-19 season.

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018: Conference Finals schedule, TV info
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Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.