Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Pekka Rinne…
|Pekka Rinne’s last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
While Pekka Rinne’s 2012-13 lockout-shortened season was not as impressive as the two prior seasons, he still was the team’s most valuable player. Rinne played in 43 of the team’s 48 games, which is astounding given the fact that most games were being played literally every other night. He had a 2.43 GAA and a .910 save percentage, both of which are decent numbers. However, the 15-16-8 record made those numbers look worse than they actually were. Rinne kept the Predators in a lot of games they shouldn’t have been in, especially toward the end of the season when they were decimated by injuries.
Speaking of injuries, it was discovered after last season that Rinne had been battling through a hip injury all season long. Playing in goal with that hip injury made his job even tougher than it already was. One area that Rinne really struggled in last season was the shootout. He had five shootout losses, which was as many as he had the previous season in a regular schedule where he played in 73 games.
During the NHL lockout, Rinne spent time in the KHL playing for Dinamo Minsk where he posted a 3.08 GAA and a .897 save percentage in 22 games played.
Burning question for 2013-14: How will Rinne hold up physically?
One of the biggest concerns for the Predators heading into the 2013-14 season is the health of Rinne. Given the inexperienced options they have at the backup goaltending position – Magnus Hellberg and Carter Hutton – the Predators are going to have to rely on Rinne once again this season if they’re going to make it back to the playoffs. Will Rinne be 100 percent when the regular season starts? The Predators are certainly hoping that he will, but they will have to be very cautious about rushing him back too soon.
The 2013-14 season will, of course, return to a normal 82-game schedule, but there are also the Olympics to consider. It’s very likely that Rinne will see some playing time over in Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, and he has a great chance to be the starting goaltender for Finland. That’s just going to mean more games played at a high level for Rinne, plus the workload he’ll have to take on in Nashville after the Olympics because the Predators will likely be battling for a playoff spot. Can he handle that workload and still be a healthy, dominant goaltender? It’s a tough task.
Even with all of the additions the Predators made in the off-season, one thing remains the same: They are going as far as Rinne takes them. If he can stay healthy and return to his dominant form, the team is going to be in good shape. The Predators are going to have to monitor how many games he plays this season, however, especially in the first half, or he won’t have anything left in the tank come playoff time.