Predators Netminder Making Strong Case For Vezina Consideration

By Amanda DiPaolo

At this point in the season, Boston’s Tim Thomas has to be the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy for the goalkeeper judged to be the best at his position. Thomas leads the League in goals against (1.80) and save percentage (.945) with a 25-6-6 record. But there are several goaltenders chasing the numbers Thomas has put up, making their case as to why they, too, are Vezina candidates.

Nashville’s Pekka Rinne is one of those goaltenders.

(AP)

Rinne was named the NHL’s third star for the month of January. After shuting out Detroit Saturday night, Rinne was named the League’s second star of the evening. Most notably, however, Rinne was recently named the 6th best netminder in the League by The Hockey News in their goalie issue.

Rinne was pleased with his ranking. “It’s obviously a big magazine. I’m honored. There are so many good goalies. It’s awesome,” the 28 year old said.

Rinne had a rare night off on Thursday when the Predators lost 3-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers, and returned in goal to blank Detroit Saturday night 3-0. It was Rinne’s fourth shutout of the season.

Predators Captain, Shea Weber, believes Rinne is the key to Nashville’s success. “Yeah, he’s great. It sounds like a broken record. We say it every game. Without him, I don’t think we’d be where we are. He was our best player (Saturday), and I think he’s been our best player all year,” Weber said after the game with Detroit.

Rinne ranks second in the League in both goals-against average (2.04) and save percentage (.931). The Kempele, Finland native has an even more impressive home goals against average at 1.71 where he has a 7-3-5 record. Rinne also leads the League in save percentage on the penalty kill at .933 and has allowed two or less goals in 12 of the last 14 games since New Year’s Eve. During that span, Nashville’s starting goalie has a League-leading 10-3-1 record, a 1.55 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage.

Rinne has previously told Predlines that if Nashville’s offense scores two goals that should be enough for the win, and he has the numbers to back up the suggestion with a 16-6-1 record when the Predators score at least two goals. Rinne’s record is 12-2-1 when the Predators score at least three goals.

If Rinne keeps up this level of play for the remainder of the season, how could he not be considered for the Vezina?

Up next for Nashville, and Rinne, are the Edmonton Oilers Monday night at Bridgestone Arena. Rinne has a 6-1 all-time record against the Oilers. Tickets are still available at the box office.

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