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Rinne Readying Himself for NHL Opportunity

Wednesday, 03.26.2008 / 7:42 PM CT / Features
By Sarah Ryan  - Nashville Predators
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Rinne Readying Himself for NHL Opportunity
The most sizeable player on the Nashville roster right now won’t be found scrapping in the corners for the puck, nor will he be defending the blue line. No, at an impressive 6-5, goaltender Pekka Rinne is doing what he does best—stopping the puck.

“He covers a lot of net,” said goaltending coach Mitch Korn of Rinne. “He’s also very quick. For a big man he is quite athletic.”

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Quite athletic, indeed. At the time of his recall to Nashville from the Milwaukee Admirals, the 25-year-old Rinne lead the AHL in games played (60), wins (33), and was unbeaten in his previous six starts.

“He’s the MVP of that hockey team,” said Korn. “He’s gained tremendous experience playing that much hockey and carrying that team. It can only benefit him in the long run.”

This isn’t the first time Predators fans have gotten a glimpse of the Kempele, Finland native. In the 2005-06 season, Rinne played in two games for the Predators, posting one win and one loss.

“It feels different this time,” said Rinne after being recalled on March 22. “That was my first year and I had only played a couple months down in Milwaukee. Now it is different; I know the city, I know the people, I know how hockey is played over here. I am more confident.”

If his numbers in Milwaukee are any indication, Rinne certainly is playing a more confident game than Predators’ fans saw two seasons ago. After a solid training camp, Rinne was just barely beaten out by Dan Ellis for the backup role behind Chris Mason. But despite being edged out by Ellis, Rinne has kept a positive attitude and produced great numbers for the Admirals.

“He’s such a positive guy,” said Korn. “A lot of goalies would have been unhappy—we use the term sour—at different times not being called up or when he was sent to Milwaukee after training camp.

“But he’s got a tremendous attitude. He’s a laid back guy and he goes with the flow.”

Using his size to his advantage, Rinne is an imposing netminder who covers a great deal of area around the crease. While having long legs could create problems such as a larger five-hole—due to the lengthened time it takes to get from the standing to the butterfly position—Rinne works hard at closing that distance more quickly. His imposing height also allows him to protect a large area of the net, even while playing on his knees—something that is much harder for a shorter goalie to accomplish.

While Rinne does acknowledge that players at the NHL are stronger, faster, and more skilled than at the minor league level, he attests that his job as a goaltender stays the same.

“For a goalie nothing really changes,” said Rinne. “You just have to stop the puck.”

After a shoulder injury limited his ice time last season, Rinne worked hard to get back into shape and back on track. And with the noteworthy numbers he has put up in Milwaukee since his return, he seems up for the challenge of whatever may come his way up here in Nashville.

Keeping a positive energy and supporting his teammates is what Rinne sees as his role in Nashville right now; thinking about how long he will be in a Predators’ uniform is not high on his list of things to do.

“You have to be confident,” said Rinne. “I don’t want to think anything else. I just go day-by-day and go from there.”

Rinne may not be concentrating too hard on the long-term possibilities of staying on the Predators’ active roster; but in light of his recent recall, the coaches and management might be.

“I think everyone generally believes he’s going to be able to play at the NHL level,” said Korn. “And that’s a good thing.”





1 CHI 55 35 16 4 153 127 74
2 DAL 52 33 14 5 169 137 71
3 STL 54 29 17 8 128 128 66
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 50 27 19 4 145 132 58
6 COL 54 27 23 4 146 148 58
7 ANA 50 25 18 7 111 115 57
8 NSH 52 24 20 8 130 137 56
9 MIN 51 23 19 9 126 122 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 51 20 19 12 119 138 52
12 CGY 50 22 25 3 130 147 47
13 WPG 51 22 26 3 132 148 47
14 EDM 52 21 26 5 130 151 47


R. Josi 52 10 27 -4 37
S. Weber 52 13 20 -6 33
J. Neal 52 18 13 16 31
M. Ribeiro 52 6 25 1 31
F. Forsberg 52 14 16 -9 30
M. Ekholm 52 6 16 1 22
R. Ellis 51 6 15 0 21
C. Smith 52 11 6 -1 17
C. Wilson 36 4 12 0 16
C. Jarnkrok 51 8 7 -3 15
P. Rinne 19 17 7 .903 2.51
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36