It's Pekka Rinne's Time To Shine

The Nashville Predators finished the regular season 44-27-11, good for 99 points and 5th place in the West, thanks largely in part to the spectacular play of Finnish netminder Pekka Rinne. This season, Rinne has put together a .930 save percentage, as well as a 2.12 GAA, putting himself at the forefront of the conversation for both the Vezina and Hart trophy. And he's done all of this with a middle of the road defense that allows 30.6 shots per game.

Rinne has gotten the Predators this far, and if they want to get past Anaheim, it'll have to be on the shoulders of the one we've come to know, simply, as the Eraser.

A hot goaltender can swing a series, and one needs to look no further back than last year's Montreal Canadiens for evidence. The Canadiens rode Jaraslov Halak all the way to the Conference Finals, beating the  Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. And it's not like they were getting a lot of offense, either. For the postseason, The Canadiens' offense averaged only 2.42 goals/game and the power-play produced at a mere 16.4%. So we know Halak was doing something right. For the post-season, Halak posted a .923 save percentage, and 2.55 GAA. But, in the games Montreal won, Halak posted an incredible .960 save percentage and 1.44 GAA.

Now, Rinne hasn't been that good this season, but he's been pretty darn good. Here are Rinne's numbers for the season, and in his 3 games against Anaheim (Anders Lindback was in net for Nashville's only loss to the Ducks):


GP MIN W L
GA GAA SA SV SV%

2010 - Pekka Rinne

Against Anaheim

64

3

 

3789

162

33

3

22

0

134

6

2.12

2.22

1905

109

1771

103

.930

.945

 


Rinne's numbers against Anaheim are about on par with how the rest of his season has gone. That's good news for Predator fans, because average Rinne is better than 90% of the goaltenders in this league.

But it just feels like this won't be just an average post-season for Pekka Rinne. Rinne has a chance to put this team on his back, like he has done so often, and carry them when the offense can't do the job. And if the offense does decide to start scoring? Well, Anaheim better watch out, because Nashville is 41-4-2 when they score 3 or more goals.

But don't take my word for it. Here's what other people are saying about Pekka Rinne and the playoff run he could have:

From the USA Today

Rinne says he feels really confident.


The Predators share that feeling and point to the man they believe is the NHL's best goaltender as their reason why. This is a team built from the net outward, and the 6-foot-5 Finn makes scoring against Nashville very difficult.

Barry Trotz in the Tennessean:

"To me, he's our MVP, without a doubt," Predators Coach Barry Trotz said. "When you talk about who is the most valuable player to his team, which is what the Hart Trophy is about, Pekka has got to be in the top three for me."

Corey Masisak on NHL.com:

Pekka Rinne likely will be a Vezina Trophy finalist this year, and he's quite capable of being the breakout superstar of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

If Nashville wants to win this series, they'll need Pekka Rinne to play as good, if not better, than he has this season. Rinne has had an outstanding 2010-2011 campaign thus far, that won't change. But he has a chance to make it even better, and write a chapter in Predator history.

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