Nashville Predators: Pekka Rinne is not an elite goalie

(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne is not elite, at least according to EA Sports. Here is why they got it right, thought many fans disagree.

The position of goalie is likely the most important on the ice. Their ability to stop the puck and keeping opponents from scoring frees the rest of the team to attack. A goalie that allows too many goals forces the defense to play back, leaving more open ice for the opponent. And for the Nashville Predators, they have witnessed both sides.

Ea Sports is in the process of gradually releasing the player ratings for their newest installment of their NHL video game. Video game makers such as EA and 2K Sports have made a phenomenon out of releasing player ratings for games such as Madden 18 and NBA 2K18. In fact, a lot of the players themselves have had a vested interest in their ratings.

Making the List

This year, the NHL franchise has gotten in on the action. They kicked off their release by announcing Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel’s rating along with a “deep-dive” into how they rated players this year. Kessel got a solid 86 rating. According to their detailed rating system, that means he is a first line talent, but not necessarily a superstar.

EA followed up today with releasing their top 10 goalies.

The list included the usual suspects: Carey Price, Devin Dubnyk, and Henrik Lundqvist. It also included some newcomers in Matt Murray and Cam Talbot. Also included are Corey Crawford and Cory Schneider. Those two seem to have drawn the most complaints in the Twittersphere.

As far as goalies not on the list, Nashville Predators net-minder Pekka Rinne was mentioned numerous times in response to the release.

It seems his Conn Smythe caliber run in the playoffs has expanded his fan base. Nevertheless, by not making the top ten, EA has determined Rinne is not an elite goalie. They may not be wrong.

Look at the numbers

Last season, Pekka Rinne ranked 16th in the league in both Save% and Goals Against Average (GAA) with .918 % and 2.42. Additionally, Rinne had seven Really Bad Starts (having a single-game Save % of .85 or less). Looking farther than last season, Rinne has saved 91.6% of shots faced to go along with 25 RBS over the last 3 seasons. That is good for only 27th in the league over that span.

He also held a 2.36 GAA good for 13th among goalies to play at least 50 games over the last 3 years. What is most troubling about Rinne is his play on special teams. Rinne’s Save% goes way down when the sides are not even. When the Predators are Short-handed, Rinne has sadly posted an embarrassing .860 Save% over the last 3 seasons, allowing 105 pucks to get past him. Those stats put him in the basement at 54th place in the league.

Let’s compare him to the top 10 list now. They all had better statistical seasons than Rinne last season, save Corey Crawford and Henrik Lundqvist. I decided to see how Rinne’s career stacked up against the top 10. To do this, I averaged the best three seasons for each goalie. Nine of the 10 goalies had better Save% and GAA in those seasons. Corey Crawford was the only with a lower Save%, but he had a better GAA.

What’s worse, Rinne plays behind arguably the best defense in the league. He has always had good defensemen in front of him. Yet, somehow he is usually just outside the top 10 in stats every year.

What to expect from here on out

We all know Rinne is getting old. He will turn 35 this season. His best seasons are definitely behind him. The only goalie on that top 10 list older than Rinne is Lunqvist. It would be foolish to think Rinne could reproduce his postseason play throughout an entire season.

If Rinne is going to be able to play at a high level this upcoming season, the Predators are going to have to limit his play. They cannot count on him to play more than 60 games. I wouldn’t play him in more than 55 games. With Juuse Sarros waiting on deck, the Nashville Predators have the luxury of resting Rinne more. If they are able to do that, I imagine Rinne can limit his RBS to 5 of less.

Next: Mount Rushmore of Predators Players

I also believe he can get about .925 Save%. If he can do that, the Predators are going to be right back where they were last season. Hopefully this time, they will have home ice advantage.