Not long after word broke that Pekka Rinne could possibly play for the Nashville Predators on their upcoming homestand, the Vezina nominee was assigned to the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint. For the first time since 2008, Rinne will suit up for the Milwaukee Admirals.
This is great news for the Predators’ fanbase. Rinne has had no timetable set on his return during his injury, and it was even questionable whether he would see action at all. Assuming things go well in Milwaukee, it would mean his return to Nashville is imminent.
The Predators, who resume play tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, are five points out of a playoff spot. The hill to climb is no doubt steep, but getting Rinne back soon would bolster their lineup and give them a much better shot at accomplishing that feat. Even a rusty Rinne is a better option in net than what they currently have.
That’s not to say Carter Hutton hasn’t been playing well. He’s one of the reasons they are so close to the Wild Card spot. However, there is no doubt Hutton is a backup goalie at best. Given the situation of being thrust into the starting job with no warning, he deserves all the credit in the world — even if he’s drawn the ire of the fans and Barry Trotz at times.
But Pekka Rinne is an elite talent. He’s a goaltender every team wishes they had on their roster and one who can steal games just as easily as he can make important saves. Fans in Nashville need to hope his conditioning stint goes perfectly, because then they can get excited to see their star goalie on the ice in gold and blue again.