Reaction on Rinne
The Nashville Predators announced today that goaltender Pekka Rinne will undergo arthroscopic hip surgery to determine what may have caused an unexpected infection of his hip.
“When (Pekka) got back to Nashville after the plane ride home, he developed some soreness and stiffness in his hip and had a little bit of a fever,” Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said. “He came into practice yesterday with a significant limp and was in a fair bit of pain. We sent him to Vanderbilt to see Dr. [J.W. Thomas] Byrd who did the operation five months ago. A series of tests and an MRI determined that he has a spontaneous bacterial infection.”
The infection could not have come at a worse time, considering Rinne played lights-out on Tuesday night in Minnesota, albeit in a losing effort. Rinne is 1-1-1 in his last three outings, allowing one goal in each, and, in his past five starts (3-1-1), the Kempele, Finland native has turned away 120-of-128 shots against to post a 1.60 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
“I’m not a doctor, but in talking with the doctor, they have no idea how this developed five months after the fact,” Poile said. “He was healed up and had no significant pain or setbacks. Because of the infection, they are going to do a scope of his hip to flush it out and to do the ultimate best they can to remove the infection as soon as possible. Because of the scope, he will be out approximately one month, so that is where we are. I have no other updates on it in terms of more details.”
With Rinne out for at least the next month, in steps Carter Hutton, the solid, yet unproven backup netminder. Hutton has progressed nicely since coming in on July 5, and his work with Predators goaltending coach Mitch Korn seems to have paid off this past Sunday, when he defeated the Winnipeg Jets for his first NHL win.
“You’re always prepared to play,” Hutton said. “This is definitely not the way that I want to play – you want to win the job, but that the same time, you always have to be ready.”
To back up Hutton, rookie goaltender Magnus Hellberg has been recalled from Milwaukee. Hellberg, who was selected with the Preds’ first pick (38th overall) in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, has posted a 1-2-0 record, a 2.23 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in three starts this season for the Admirals. The 6-6, 195-pound netminder is just a season removed from tying for second among AHL goaltenders in shutouts (6), while ranking fourth in goals-against average (2.14) and save percentage (.924).
Only time will tell in regards to how quickly Rinne recovers from this most recent issue and as to how well Hutton plays in his absence. One thing was made certain this morning – Poile and his staff feel confident in their backup plan with one of the League’s top goaltenders out of commission for the foreseeable future.