Pekka Rinne wasn’t unbeatable in the first round of the 2017 playoffs. But by the time Nashville completed its sweep of the Blackhawks, his opponents from Chicago may have felt that way. He gave up only three goals in four games versus Chicago, and while he didn’t maintain that torrid puckstopping pace throughout the playoffs, he was an integral member of the Predators’ run to the Stanley Cup Final. It was great for Rinne, who has been with Nashville since his selection in the 2004 NHL Draft. It was in the final series where he struggled with consistency. He was excellent in Games 3 and 4 in Nashville, as the Predators evened the series. He was good again in Game 6 but was unlucky on what would be the Stanley Cup winning goal to Pittsburgh. It was in Games 1, 2 and 5 that Rinne struggled, allowing a combined 11 goals against on 45 shots faced and getting the hook early in the fifth game. It was a strange, up-and-down way to end the playoffs during a two-month stretch when Rinne was otherwise excellent. The Predators certainly have the makings of a team that can compete for the Western Conference title again next season, with an impressive young core group of forwards and a dangerous blue line, particularly with their top four. Where things could get interesting is in goal. Rinne turns 35 years old in November and has two more years remaining on his contract, with an annual $7 million cap hit. He’s been the workhorse in Nashville for years. Since the 2010-11 season, Rinne has on five occasions played 60 or more games in a single season, reaching 73 games played in 2011-12. He’s averaged almost 64 games played over the last three years, and even during the lockout shortened year, he played in almost 90 per cent of the Predators’ regular season games.
Despite impressive young core, Predators need Rinne to step up again next season
Pro Hockey Talk | Aug 10