When it comes to the most consistent netminders in the NHL, there is one that does not get the credit he deserves.
People will say that he plays behind a great defensive team. Other people will say that he is a product of that particular team’s style of say while others will point out that may be he does not have the name recognition.
The masked man that I am talking about is Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators. Year in and year out, the 36-year-old goaltender has been among the league’s best netminders and yet, no one really seems to talk about him.
That all changed last season when Rinne had his best season. In winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender, he won 42 games while posting a 2.31 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage and he had eight shutouts.
Yes, he once again faltered when his team needed him the most in the Stanley Cup playoffs. With that said, his performance in the playoffs should not take away the fact that he will go down as one of the game’s upper echelon goaltenders.
Despite not playing his best in the playoffs last year, he found a way to get over and move on to this season. In fact, many will say that he is using last year’s poor showing in the playoffs to fuel his play this season.
These people would be right. As of this writing (December 19) he is once again one of the best goaltenders in the league.
Rinne currently (December 19) leads the league with a 2.07 goals-against average, is fifth in the NHL with a .927 save percentage, is tied for fifth with 14 wins, and is also tied for fifth with two shutouts. If you ask me, he is on the same pace as last season to once again be one of the league’s best goaltenders.
One reason why Rinne is playing well is that he does not let things bother him. After the playoffs last season, many questioned if it was Juuse Saros’s time to be the main guy between the pipes, despite the fact that Rinne won the Vezina.
Instead of being discourage, Rinne came into this season on a mission to prove to his team and the NHL that he is still an elite goaltender. He has certainly proved that point thus far this season.
Another reason why Rinne is playing well is because he is constantly in good position. Rarely will you find him out of position on a shot as he is always in good position to stop the first shot and then finds a way to get in a good position to stop second and third opportunities.
Rinne also continues to show that every season, he is the guy that gives his team the best chance to win a hockey game. Heck, he currently (December 19) has 325 career victories and with the way he is playing this season, that number will certainly rise.
He may not care about the accolades because he is focused on winning the Cup, something that has eluded him his entire career. With that said, it is time to acknowledge that Rinne is one of the game’s best and that when it comes to this season, he will once again find himself either at or close to the top of the goalie leaderboard.
*Photo: The Players’ Tribune