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Connor Ingram

In terms of worst-case-scenario, Tuesday’s 7-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is about as bad as it gets for the Nashville Predators.

Tuesday’s game played out like a live-action check list of everything that’s plagued the Predators this season. 

Taking questionable penalties: check. 

Allowing multiple power play opportunities: check.

Digging an early hole that’s near impossible to climb out of: check. 

“We weren’t good enough tonight to win the game and there’s multiple reasons for that,” Predators coach John Hynes said. “I think a lot of them are fixable and correctable, and we’re a good team. We play to an identity that gives us a chance to win. We’ve got to get to that game and be a little smarter in certain areas and we’ll be better. We’ll be better in Game 2 than we were in Game 1.”

At this point in the season, it’s questionable whether the Predators’ troubles really are fixable. If they haven’t solved them in the first 83 games, I’m highly skeptical the remedy can be found by game 84.

This series, however, there may not be a solution. At least, not with David Rittich in goal. 

The 29-year-old allowed five goals on 13 shots (.615 save percentage), and he was promptly replaced by rookie Connor Ingram 15 minutes into the first period. Ingram, who was playing in just his fourth career NHL game, stopped 30 of 32 shots over 45 minutes and likely showed enough promise to earn the start in Game 2 on Thursday.

“I have full confidence in both of our goalies…it’s more on us [as a defense] to play better in front of them,” defenseman Mattias Ekholm said.

Granted, not all five of the goals Rittich let in Tuesday were his fault, but a .615 save percentage in a playoff game is inexcusable. 

Realistically, though, the Predators should have seen that performance coming. 

After all, Tuesday was nothing more than a continuation of Rittich’s first 12 starts this season. He’s allowed four or more goals in six starts this year, and he has a save percentage below .900 in eight of those games.

Unfortunately for the Predators, the book has already been written on Rittich, and it’s a short read. I’ll summarize — he’s inconsistent and gives up a lot of goals. 

The top-seeded Avalanche were going to be awfully tough to beat regardless of who’s in net, but Ingram at least gives the Predators a chance. Had he started Game 1 and only allowed the two goals, we could be talking about a different outcome.

While Hynes hasn’t announced his starting goalie for Thursday’s Game 2, the job appears to be Ingram’s to lose right now.

“Connor looked good,” Hynes said. “I thought he came n and looked calm, he made some good saves, so that was nice to see. That’s why we put him in at the point we did, it was to give him an opportunity to play, and I thought he came in and did a good job. So, that’s encouraging.”

The silver lining — if there’s one to be had — is the Predators are typically pretty sharp in games directly after allowing six or more goals. They had a 6-2 record in such instances during the regular season.

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_