Nashville Predators: Blast from the Past for Pekka Rinne

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (35) Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

I’m going to preface this article by saying that Pekka Rinne wasn’t necessarily dominant in his first win for the Nashville Predators in almost a year. But he did make some vintage saves that we all know him for.

The Predators beat the Chicago Blackhawks last night to end a three-game skid, while Rinne recorded his first win since last February when he beat the St. Louis Blues.

The thing about Rinne that’s always made him so special is he makes saves he has no business making. Saves that just leave you shaking your head whether you’re his teammate or the opposition.

We got to see some of that in Rinne’s first win of the season. He didn’t face a barrage of shots from Chicago, but he did settle in and start looking more comfortable as the game wore on.

Pekka keeps the Nashville Predators alive

The save, or multiple saves, that really reminded me of vintage Rinne was when the Blackhawks were up 2-1 and pushing to get that multi-goal lead.

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With a Predators team that’s struggling to find the back of the net right now, that would’ve been a huge blow to fall behind by two goals. Rinne stood tall and somehow kept the puck from getting past him.

With the loose puck bouncing around and flying all around the net, Rinne slapped it away in mid air and then laid down flat to cover up the puck.

How it didn’t go in is beyond me. Here’s a look at it from the Predators social media page:

Rinne kept this game against the Chicago Blackhawks from getting out of hand early on when it appeared that the Predators were about to fold again. Fold just like they did against the Dallas Stars when they lost 7-0.

Another reason this game reminded me of old school Rinne was how he was playing the puck. He was clearing pucks on his own and thwarting offensive momentum for the Blackhawks.

Being able to play the puck as a goaltender is sometimes a trait that gets overlooked. Everyone wants to see the flashy saves and shutouts, but Rinne has always been masterful at playing the puck on the boards.

At times Rinne seemed like he was fighting the puck and didn’t look comfortable. But he settled in after giving up his second goal of the game on a breakaway off a lazy pass from Matt Duchene.

You would’ve liked to see Rinne make that crazy difficult save on Mattias Janmark, but it was a perfect shot and would’ve been a tough save for any goaltender.

Still shaking off the rust

You also have to understand that Rinne is likely still shaking off a lot of rust. He just hasn’t been used that much since last spring before the pause happened.

Rinne became the backup during last season, and then didn’t play at all in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers last August. He also became a father over the offseason, so hockey was kind of on the back burner for him.

Now Rinne looks focused and ready to go out on top and help this franchise be a contender again like they were just a couple seasons ago when he won the Vezina Trophy.

This win for Rinne was like a blast from the past because the Predators could’ve easily lost this game if not for some timely saves. After the game went to overtime, Rinne had to be sharp with more open ice to operate, and Patrick Kane skating on the other side.

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Juuse Saros should continue to get the bulk of the starts, but Hynes will be making a mistake to hide Rinne on the bench too often and only use him on true back-to-backs.

Rinne has that uncanny ability to steal games from the opposition. He did that last night with a couple timely saves to keep the score close, and he’ll do it again if he gets the chance.

Only thing we were missing in this game for Rinne was another goaltender goal against Chicago. But you can’t have everything you ask for.