The 2013 season was a tough one for the Nashville Predators, as the offense struggled to score goals and goaltender Pekka Rinne had his worst season as a professional. The Predators have seen the 2013-14 season get off to a similar start, as Rinne has been leaned on heavily while the offense tries to adjust to many new pieces. It looks like the Predators fate will once again rest of the shoulders of the Finnish netminder, and he will have a great chance to build on his first win of the season as the Predators face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
Rinne allowed three goals in his first 10 minutes of action this season, and was pulled in favor of backup Carter Hutton. He allowed three goals in his next start, but stopped 32 of 34 shots to record his first win of the season, beating the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. The big question for the Predators the rest of the season now becomes which version of Rinne is going to show up – the one who posted a 43-18-8 record with a 2.39 goals-against in 2011-12 or the one who struggled to a 15-16-8 record last season. Hutton only has two games of NHL experience under his belt, so Rinne remains the go-to option in net no matter what kinds of ups and downs he is experiencing. It’s also important to note that without a fair amount of offense in front of him, asking Rinne for 30-35 saves every night he plays just may not work anymore. A win against a Maple Leafs team that is very good but a little banged up could go a long way towards Rinne getting his confidence back, and would brighten the outlook for the Predators this season.