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Nashville Predators 2010-11 Season Preview: Pekka Rinne

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In the weeks leading up to the new season, we'll preview the Nashville Predators on a player-by-player basis, examining their role on the squad and expectations relative to capabilities. So come along for the ride as we look ahead to 2010-11, from Andersson to Wilson. Next up: Pekka Rinne.

In past seasons, the Nashville Predators have had two above-average goalies to rely on. Tomas Vokoun had Chris Mason, Mason was backed up by Dan Ellis, and Ellis' subsequent turn as the starter has now yielded to Pekka Rinne. 2010-11, however, looks to be a deviation from the norm.

The Predators are heading into training camp with Pekka Rinne as the sole proven solution in goal. It is his first year as a full-time starter, but his fifth in professional hockey. Rinne has shown over the past two years that he has the talent to be one of the NHL's better goalies, but can he handle a full workload without the benefit of a proven backup?

Rinne owns all the tools you look for in a franchise goaltender. Will he reward management's trust? Follow below for a look at what his 2010-11 will entail.


Pekka Rinne

#35 / Goalie / Nashville Predators

6-5

206

Nov 03, 1982


Role

Starting goalie. I can't see a situation at any point in the coming year where Barry Trotz alternates between netminders or the backup gets 20 starts. Frankly, the job is not even Pekka's to lose - there's no one to lose it to. Of the three other goalies that will attend training camp, neither Mark Dekanich, Chet Pickard, or Anders Lindback have a single game of NHL experience.

Expectations

The Predators need Rinne to play consistent hockey, so it follows, then, that he must build on his previous campaign. He had several brilliant stretches last year, but until the playoffs you never felt like he had a firm grip on the #1 job. Nashville needs Rinne not to just "play well enough not to lose", but continually put the Preds in a position to win the game.

Contract

Two years, $6.8 million. David Poile rewarded Rinne, but not overly so. If he continues at his current performance, then there will be a longer and more expensive deal in his future.

Previously...

Wow, where to start? He played in 58 games, going 32-16-5, with a save percentage of .911 and goals against average of 2.53. Rinne finished the year with 7 shutouts and was named one of the NHL's "Stars of the Week" not once, but twice. He put together the best month of March of any goalie in the league, which included a stretch of four shutouts in five games. Finally, Pekka Rinne did all he could to keep Nashville in the series against the Chicago Blackhawks by posting a .911 and 2.68. He turned away 163 shots in six games, or 27 saves per game.

Prediction

I'm sure that Rinne will get the lion's share of the starts - probably 65 or more - but I'm not sure how he'll hold up.  Look for a a lower GAA, but fewer shutouts. I think a stat line of .912, 2.40, 40 wins and five shutouts should be entirely within the realm of possibility.

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