NHL.com: Rinne rolling as Nashville moves on

Saturday, 04.21.2012 / 3:46 PM CT / Nashville Predators Playoffs Coverage
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NHL.com: Rinne rolling as Nashville moves on

NASHVILLE -- Five games into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is right where he was at the end of the regular season -- leading the League in wins.

After eliminating the Detroit Red Wings from their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with a 2-1 victory on Friday, Rinne stood in the Preds' dressing room, answering questions confidently, just as he was before the series began.

"We did what we planned to do," he said. "We were well prepared. I think it was our strongest game of the series. Just overall, I thought we won it and we had a lot of will in our game and we were able to do it."

Rinne might have a relaxed, humble disposition off the ice, but his will on the ice cannot be questioned. With a .944 save percentage and a 1.81 goals-against average, the 6-foot-5 Rinne proved the difference in helping Nashville oust Central Division rival Detroit for the first time in three playoff meetings. The biggest key was winning Games 3 and 4 on the road at Joe Louis Arena, where the Predators had never won in six previous attempts in the postseason.

"Peks played great," Preds All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter said. "Peks stole us a couple of games and he's been doing that all year."

Prior to Game 5, Predators coach Barry Trotz talked about how his team needed to correct mistakes it was making. Those mistakes were less visible because Rinne erased them and Nashville was winning in spite of them.

"We made too many mistakes," Trotz said on Thursday. "We got away with a few too many mistakes in the last two games. Hopefully, we've got it through to everybody to have the right mindset that if you don't clean it up, those are going got come back and haunt you."

Asked the significance of ousting the Red Wings in such a short span, All-Star defenseman and Preds captain Shea Weber pointed in the direction of his goalie.

"It says how good our goalie is because I think we still haven't played our best," Weber said. "I think today was more of a step in the right direction. We played more of a solid complete game. As the playoffs go on we have to keep getting better because the teams are going to keep getting better."

Rinne himself has had a tendency to do that – get better as the playoffs proceed -- which has given the Predators a chance to be successful in the postseason over the last few playoff seasons. In his last 11 playoff games over his last two series in 2011 and 2012, he has allowed 22 goals in 701:16 for a 1.88 goals-against average during that span.

While signing goalies to large, multi-year contracts can be problematic -- look no further than the Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks -- the Preds are reaping the benefits of locking down the 29-year-old Rinne in November to a seven-year, $49-million deal.

That deal came after a season in which Rinne was a finalist for the Vezina Trophy. He might not get there this season despite leading the NHL with 43 wins. The New York Rangers' Henrik Lundquist, Phoenix's Mike Smith and Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick would seem to be the favorites.

But there's no understating Rinne's value to the Preds and, depending on how far they can go, he might be in line for other hardware this postseason. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock labeled Rinne a franchise player after his team was eliminated on Friday and Rinne's ability not to surrender rebounds confounded Detroit throughout the entire series. Wings forward Danny Cleary said on Friday morning that Rinne had "stymied" his team.

All of it left Rinne quite happy after the game on Friday.

"It's huge," he said. "They have such a great team, great organization with a lot of history with a lot of success. It was a great chance for us to play against the Detroit Red Wings and beat them in five games. It's great. It tells something about this team. We have lot of talent in this locker room and are having a great time playing right now."

Author: John Manasso | NHL.com Correspondent

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 7 2 3 -2 5
C. Wilson 7 2 3 2 5
J. Neal 7 2 1 0 3
R. Johansen 7 1 2 1 3
F. Forsberg 7 1 2 -2 3
R. Josi 7 0 3 -1 3
M. Ekholm 7 2 0 1 2
C. Smith 5 1 1 3 2
R. Ellis 7 0 2 1 2
M. Salomaki 7 1 0 1 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 4 3 0 .915 2.45