The Nashville Predators are in danger of missing the playoffs this season, and if they do it will be hard to place too much blame on goaltender Pekka Rinne. No other goalie has played in more game or played more minutes than Rinne, yet he still boasts stats that rival those of the best netminders in the league.
Rinne has played in 38 games this season, and appeared in his 29th straight game in Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. His 37 starts also lead the league, and he has played nearly 100 more minutes than any other goalie in the league. An unfortunate lack of offensive support early in the season is the main reason for his win total only being 14. When Rinne is on top of his game, he is one of the best goalies in the game, as evidenced by his five shutouts (tied with Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes for the league lead). Rinne is 14-13-7 this season with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
The Predators sit five points out of playoff contention with eight games left in April. That leaves long odds for them to reach the postseason, but it also means they will likely continue to ride Rinne. Backup Chris Mason has only appeared in eight games this season, and has only played a full game twice. The Predators clearly believe Rinne gives them a better chance to win, and Mason’s 1-4-1 mark this season certainly backs that up. One things is for sure, if the Predators do miss the playoffs Rinne could certainly use some rest.