Three weeks ago we reported on Best and Worst Case Scenarios for the Preds this season. With today’s news, we are definitely moving in the worst case scenario direction.
Coming off what was arguably his best game of the season, Josh Cooper with the Tennessean is reporting that Pekka Rinne will miss a minimum of four weeks to deal with an infection from his surgically repaired hip. The infection stems from the hip surgery Rinne underwent this summer in hopes that a healthy hip would allow him to return to top form. Surgical infections seem to be an all too frequent occurrence for professional athletes and this one hits the Preds very hard.
The Preds will now have to rely on Carter Hutton to fill the void. Hutton filled in admirably for Rinne on opening night and posted his first NHL win on Sunday against Winnipeg. Hutton’s goals against average is a stingy 1.09 and he has stopped 59 of the 61 shots he has faced. It is not realistic to think that Hutton will maintain those numbers while filling in for Rinne, but anything close might be enough. We will get our first look at Hutton, with the added pressure of serving as the number one guy, tonight against Winnipeg at Bridgestone. Winnipeg has not exactly lit up the scoreboard this year, so hopefully Hutton can get through a solid outing tonight.
The Preds have called up Magnus Hellberg to serve as the primary back-up and David Poile has indicated he will also see some time in net while Rinne is out. Hellberg was the 38th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Drart and has yet to play in an NHL game. In his first season in North America, he posted 22 wins with a 2.14 goals against average and .925 save percentage for Milwaukee. He has similar size to Rinne and plays a similar style in net.
While Rinne is easily the Preds most important player, this could serve as the make or break point in the season. Without their all-star goaltender behind them it could motivate the team to exert more offensive energy with the idea they will need more goals to support Hutton. However, it could also lead to the team shutting down even more defensively to protect Hutton to the detriment of their offense. Here’s to hoping this provides a spark and the Preds can keep pace while Rinne heals.