I go into this season with a bit of a deja vu feeling. No...not the club next to the interstate with all the neon lights on the outside and poles on the inside but that uncomfortable feeling that I may see a repeat of something I have seen in the past. Is seems like only a year ago...wait...it was exactly a year ago...that the Preds were heading into the season with a new starting goaltender by the name of Chris Mason. This guy had played so well in relief of then starter Tomas Vokoun that the Preds traded TV away leaving Mason to be 'the man.' Many, including yours truly, thought we would be just as good with Mason as we were with Vokoun. Wow...how wrong we were.
This year seems a similar situation. A back up goalie that made a name for himself last year is anointed as the starter in Nashville. He was outstanding for us last year and the Preds climbed aboard his shoulders many times on route to victory. The question I have as I look at our goalie situation for this season is, 'can Ellis be the number one guy all year?'
My answer is yes. I truly believe that the Preds have found a diamond in the rough. A goalie who was victim to being in a system (Dallas) that was deep in goaltending. Ellis was the odd man out and the Preds were able to bring him to camp to compete for a roster spot. Little did the Preds even know what they had…but they would soon find out. When Mason went mental the Preds turned to Ellis who, single handedly, saved the Preds season with his outstanding play. Splitting time for most of the year it was obvious to Pred fans that Ellis was the stronger of the two and he eventually won out toward the end of the year and going into the playoffs. While I am guarded in my optimism I really believe that Ellis is going to become a top five goalie this year.
His numbers last year prove that he is legit:
GAA - 2.36
Save % - .923
SO - 6
I am not, however, convinced yet that Pekka Rinne is our goalie of the future and truth be told I hope we don't have to find out this year. I hope I only see him about once every 12-15 games or so to spell Dan for a game. Pekka has yet to impress me but the same could have been said of Vokoun or Ellis before they were given chances to step up.
Whatever the case, whoever is in-between the pipes will have to win some games. We will not be putting up many goals this year and it will be our defense and goaltending that will keep us in games. Ellis can play that role for us and like last year, he is going to have some spells where he is out of sight and will be player of the week in the NHL...just as he was last year.
Predator fans the state of our goaltending is great. (that was me going out on a ledge making a bold prediction...all the eggs in the Dan Ellis basket...here goes nothing!)