Nashville Predators 2019-20 Season Grades: Pekka Rinne

NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 10: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators taps hands with fans prior to an NHL game against the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena on February 10, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - FEBRUARY 10: Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators taps hands with fans prior to an NHL game against the St. Louis Blues at Bridgestone Arena on February 10, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

In this shortened season, the Nashville Predators have had a series of highs and lows. For Pekka Rinne, there have been some tough moments.

While the 2019-20 season is paused, we are going to hand out the season grades for the Nashville Predators.

For Pekka Rinne, he’s had moments of glory to go along with a lot of rough stretches that have been hard to watch.

We can only hope that this isn’t the end for Rinne. It’s difficult to find a more likable professional athlete in all of sports than this guy.

But we have to be fair about the season he had, and it was full of disappointment after starting off really promising.

Hot out of the gate

Rinne started the 2019-20 season like he had been shot out of a cannon. In his first ten starts of the season, he put up a record of 8-2.

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One loss ended in a shootout, and the other in overtime. He was unstoppable, posting a 2.19 GAA going into November. He was looking like the Vezina Trophy winner again.

Then the wheels fell off. The beginning of November saw the Predators lose five of the six games that Rinne started, including four-straight losses.

Going into December his GAA had almost doubled to 4.14. A number you would never expect to see from a player like Rinne.

Rinne wasn’t having a banner year and things weren’t getting much better. Fans were becoming concerned and they began questioning his ability to mind the net.

This was not the Pekka Rinne that they we’re used to seeing.

New Year, New Coach, Somewhat Better Results

An abysmal ending to December saw two losses in two starts for Rinne. Those losses carried over into January with a loss at the hands of the Dallas Stars in the Winter Classic.

His next start was a 4-1 victory over the L.A. Kings. Before the following game against the Boston Bruins, Head Coach Peter Laviolette was relieved of his duties and replaced by John Hynes.

With the implementation of Hynes’ new playing system, Rinne essentially had a myriad of different lines in front of him every night. While the team did improve, Rinne only managed to alternate wins and losses.

As Hynes began to get his footing as the new coach, fans began to see more of backup goaltender, Juuse Saros. As time went on, fans began to see a lot more of Saros, and only see Rinne in back-to-back situations.

In February, Rinne saw only four starts out of the 14 games that the Predators played. He only started one game in March before the season came to a halt.

That one loss was a nightmare as Rinne gave up eight goals to the Edmonton Oilers, pushing his season save percentage down to .895, which is the first time in his career he’s finished below 90 percent.

It’s NOT all your fault!

Let’s be realistic. Except for the beginning of the season and until their recent surge to claim a wildcard spot, the Predators have not had a stellar season.

Some of the losses that Rinne sustained under Laviolette’s playing system were due to poor defensive showings by his teammates leaving him basically all alone to stop the puck.

Rinne’s losses under Hynes could possibly be attributed to the team learning and implementing a new playing system.

While the team did a better job of protecting the front of the net, pucks were still getting in. We can place blame for some of the losses on the rest of the team. Some blame rests squarely on Rinne.

. G. Nashville Predators. PEKKA RINNE. C -

I may take some grief for this grade. Many may say that based on his performance this year compared to others, Rinne deserves a D or worse. As a personal fan of Rinne, I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Rinne has had a few shining moments in this shortened season. He has recorded three shutouts so far, although they all occurred in the first half of the season.

How can we do a season grade on Rinne and not share this historical moment that we’ll always remember:

In early January, Rinne recorded a history-making goal against the Chicago Blackhawks. He lined it up perfectly and launched it over the length of the rink and into the net.

There were also several games where Rinne had tons of amazing saves, but the team still tallied a loss. It left you shaking your head that the team spoiled a great effort from their netminder.

At 37 years of age, it appears that time is catching up to Rinne. If this season does come to an early end, he will have only one more year on his contract. Will he retire this year? Or will he fulfill his contract and continue to mentor Saros, albeit as the backup goaltender.

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From the coach’s and management’s perspective, it is time for Rinne to pass the torch to Saros.

From a fan’s perspective, it is heartbreaking to think of a time when we will not see Rinne in goal. Sadly, it appears that the sun is setting on his illustrious career.