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 - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61