Last night, the Nashville Predators played their most complete offensive game of the season. It earned Rinne his 300th career win. He is Mr. Predator.
Coming into the season, fans of the Nashville Predators voiced concerns about the team’s anchor. The love for Pekka Rinne has never waned, and it never will. But, after a season when the aging veteran won 31 games in 61 starts, thoughts focused on limiting the action of Rinne. With only 43 games under his belt this season, Rinne is one win away from besting 2016-17. I am not sure anyone saw Rinne performing this well all season.
We could recap the game and how well the Predators’ played. Their seven-goal output tied their best on the season, and their largest margin of victory as well. The first two periods were decent periods, but the third witnessed the power of a fully-operational Predators team. Everyone on the team had shots on goal, and everyone one the top three lines except Kyle Turris earned points. All the while Rinne saved 33 of 33 shots.
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It still feels the Predators top player is overshadowed by others. Maybe it is the wealth of talent the team possesses on the ice. Or, the fact Nashville is not considered a major market like Chicago or New York. Let us be clear, Pekka Rinne is Mr. Predator and is deserving of your recognition.
Compare to the best
When the rest of the NHL world talks about the best goalies in the league, what names come to mind? Frederik Andersen? Henrik Lundqvist? Tuukka Rask? Marc-Andre Fleury? Corey Crawford?Certainly, these players are worthy of discussion. However, arguments can be made the Rinne is better than each of these quality goalies.
Check the numbers this season alone. With 30 wins on the year, Rinne is tied for third (with Andersen) in the league. However, he has reached the number in 8 fewer starts than Andersen. Connor Hellebuyck has 31 wins in 48 starts, ranking second. No goalie has a higher points percentage (.790) than Rinne this year. Fleury is close at .759.
Rinne ranks fifth in save percentage this season, eighth in goals against, and fourth in quality starts percentage. No doubting his perform this season has been stellar. The argument against it is the talented defense in front of him. Yes, there are great players on the team, but they leave Rinne out to dry too often. For example, the Predators have allowed 505 high-danger chances this year. That means opponents were able to get close to the net and given a chance to score. The goalies saved 90.1% of those chances, second best in the league.
Need some career numbers? How about career records
Now, all he needs is a Stanley Cup. Maybe a Vezina Trophy. But the numbers support the claim. Pekke Rinne is one of the best goalies in hockey. Now and ever. Period.