Pekka Rinne: “I feel 100 percent and feel ready to go.”

Source: Ronald Martinez/Getty Image

Well, that was fast! Official word has arrived from the Nashville Predators themselves! Pekka Rinne will be in net against the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night! Here’s an excerpt from the official press release:

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is set to return to action Thursday, three weeks after suffering an injury in the third period of a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 13. The Finnish netminder was diagnosed with a sprained knee and given a three-to-five week recovery period following the incident and has progressed steadily the past 22 days. Rinne has participated in the team’s morning skates since Jan. 29, and is expected to start against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. “I feel really good,” Rinne said. “I feel 100 percent and feel ready to go. It’s never a good time to be injured, but I’m feeling good.” The NHL’s leader in wins with 29, Rinne holds a 1.96 goals-against average, second in the NHL, and a .931 save percentage, also good for second among League goaltenders. Rinne was named to the 2015 All-Star Weekend in Columbus, but was forced to miss the festivities due to the injury. Preds netminder Carter Hutton started in Nashville’s previous meeting with Anaheim on Jan. 4, recording 30 saves in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Ducks. Hutton has seen a bulk of the action with Rinne out of the lineup, including a 4-0 shutout win over Pittsburgh on Sunday and a 4-3 victory over Toronto on Tuesday. “That’s great for Huts, he played a really strong game against one of the top teams, so that’s a big win,” Rinne said of Hutton’s shutout performance in Pittsburgh. “There’s been big wins [with Hutton in goal], the same against Washington at home [a 4-3 win], a big point in St. Louis [5-4 shootout loss], but there’s been big wins and big points.”

Funny to note that, despite being out for three weeks, Rinne still leads the league in wins (29) and is second in Save Percentages at .931. Will he be rusty against Anaheim? Who knows, but there’s no better time than now to get him back in the net. Now you may celebrate!

Pekka Rinne Update: E.Coli Infection

Image: Getty Images

So, we are all aware of Pekka Rinne’s infection in his surgically-repaired hip, but no one was prepared to hear exactly what type of infection it was.

An Escherichia coli (or E.Coli as it is affectionately called) infection. Yikes.

Though rare, infections in repaired hips are nothing to toy with and can cause serious damage or worse (we won’t go into those details). Luckily, Pekka’s symptoms were caught early and we don’t suspect his team of doctors will let it go unmonitored, so his expected recovery time is 6-8 weeks… just in time for Christmas/New Year’s.

Now, that’s just a rough estimate; his condition could worsen or get better depending on how his body reacts to antibiotics and other methods of recovery, just like any other type of infection. When the infection was intially discovered, Rinne did undergo a hip scope to clean out the infection.
However, do not get your hopes up for a speedy recovery. Just like any other serious infection, no one is going to be pushing Rinne back into the net any time soon, even if he’s the one claiming better health. I suspect we will begin hearing leaks of his recovery around the 6-8 week time frame, but I do not think he’ll be ready until he has been deemed completely back to 100%. No jumping back into the ice ahead of time for this guy!

So, that leaves Carter Hutton to man the goal posts until late December at the minimum. His confidence has me thinking he’ll be fine; a good stand-in until Peks can get back to his former self. When games go South for Nashville, all the blame cannot be bestowed upon Hutton, though he’s an easy target. Hutton’s had some outstanding, heart-stopping saves, but he has also had some blunders that would make kids in the juniors blush. But hey, you live and you learn, right?

The Predators are in Denver tonight to take on the 12-1-0 (yay) Avalanche, a team that defeated Nashville last month in their first meeting of the 2013-14 season. The Avalanche are hot, but Nashville’s known for their pesky determination and have pulled some wins out of nowhere. Let’s do that.

Hutton leads Predators over Jets 3-1

Image Courtesy: Getty Images

The Predators have had some great outcomes thus far this season, but tonight it was finally time to let the Finnish phenom take a break and let the backup try his hand at a full NHL game. Insert: Carter Hutton, the confident backup for Pekka Rinne who has only had one shot at protecting an NHL basket. When was that? First game of the season when Peks was pulled in the first period against the St. Louis Blues. But hey, Pekka’s looking much better now (scared me there for a moment).

So, how did Hutton fair against Matt Halischuk and the Winnipeg Jets? Here are the highlights:

First Period:

  • No goals were tallied during the first, but Matt Cullen did collect the only penalty between both teams in the first at 15:58 with a hooking call on Matt Halischuk. Nashville was able to keep Winnipeg at bay, despite the Jets outshooting the Predators 15 to 12.

Second Period:

  • Ten seconds in, Matt Hendricks would head to the box for a tripping call, giving the Jets an early advantage in the opening of the second period.
  • Eric Nystrom didn’t mind being down a man, sending a wrister past Ondrej Pavelec for a shorthanded goal just twenty seconds in.
  • Patric Hornqvist would collect this third goal of the season at 12:07 with an unassisted snapshot.
  • Matt Cullen would pick up his second goal of the season at 14:17 with assists from Colin Wilson 4th assist) and Craig Smith (5th assist).
  • Winnipeg would lead Nashville in shots on goal with eleven to seven at the end of the second.

Third Period:

  • Evander Kane would collect his fifth goal of the season with a tip-in past Hutton, though it was simply a case of “lost puck”.
  • Carter Hutton and the Preds would hold off the Jets 3-1, despite being outshot in total 26 to 39.
  • Hutton would inevitably block 38 of those 39 shots; pretty good for his first full NHL game, right?

The NHL take notice of Hutton’s success as proven with this tweet:

Well, we had our stats wrong shots wise, but oh well.

Nashville has just one more game on the road before they head back home Thursday and, who’s that team? The Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

Blown Call gives Avs Win over Preds 6-5

Sergei Kostitsyn picks up a goal and an assist in Denver.

Missed us? Last week was a bit hectic and with all of us at the games, it was hard to motivate ourself to hit the blog after a long day. We’ll get to those games later, but right now, let’s discuss the game that went down today in the Mile High City.

With the season being as short as it is, there are going to be a lot of back-to-back games and today’s afternoon set in Denver is just the start of a long two-day stretch for the Predators. The Avalanche have had their share of highs and lows so far, but the last few games have been rough on the Avs, with Colorado losing three of their last four. Needless to say, the Avalanche, playing on without their fearless leader Gabriel Landeskog, were hankering for a win. The Predators, having lost three of the last five games, were sitting in a similar boat.

FIRST PERIOD

  • The Avalanche were quick to strike first, with a wrist shot from Aaron Palushaj at 3:43 for his second goal of the season.
  • The Predators would put the pressure on Semyon Varlamov, but the Avs would capitalize again at 9:30 over Mason on the powerplay, with a slap shot from Tyson Barrie, sending Colorado up 2-0 early in the first.
  • Colorado’s two goals would awaken the Predators at 17:20 with a powerplay wrister from Sergei Kostitsyn, his second goal of the season. Colin Wilson would pick up his seventh assist, along with Craig Smith (2nd assist).
  • The Predators kept the pressure in the Avalanche zone, out-shooting Colorado nine to eight.

SECOND PERIOD

  • The second period would become one for the history books, with outstanding goals and controversial miscalls.
  • Matt Duchene’s goal at 3:18 will forever be one of controversy, though it is clear that the lineman that missed the blatantly obvious offsides. You can see the play here:
  • Even if you don’t understand anything about hockey, you can tell something was wrong here. Even Duchene hesitated before shooting the puck, knowing good and well he was offsides. However, when the whistle was not blown, Duchene took full advantage of the mistake and capitalized with a goal. After the game, the NHL did agree that the offsides call should have been made, but what does it help now?
  • Mike Fisher would put the missed call behind him, sending a wrist shot past Varlamov at 10:16 for his third goal of the season. Shea Weber, who was originally accredited with the goal picked up his third assist and Sergei Kostitsyn picked up his fourth assist of the season.
  • Colorado wouldn’t give Nashville a chance to gain momentum, sending snap shot past Mason at 11:06 from Chuck Kobasew, his first goal of the season.
  • Colin Wilson would battle back at 13:17 with a backhand into the net for his fifth goal of the season. Martin Erat would nab his seventh assist and Jonathon Blum would collect his fourth.
  • Paul Stastny and Jamie McGinn would surprise and embarrass Mason with two goals in less than sixteen seconds of each other, sending the Avs up 6-3 late in the second. Mason was promptly pulled, giving Pekka the reins.
  • With Pekka Rinne in net, the Predators were able to hold the Avs back long enough for Jonathon Blum to nab his first goal of the season with a clean slap shot at 19:10.
  • Colorado got the upper-hand on Nashville in the second, out-shooting the Preds fifteen to twelve.

THIRD PERIOD

  • Unlike the second period, the third period was filled with exhaustion on both sides. Shea Weber would capitalize on a wrist shot, putting the Preds within one (6-5) at 18:42 for his second goal of the season. Mike Fisher (3rd assist) and Patric Hornqvist (4th assist) assisted in the late minute goal.
  • Nashville overpowered the Avalanche in the third, out-shooting them seventeen to five, but it just wasn’t enough to tie the game, giving the Avs a much needed win in regulation.

 

MUSINGS:

  • Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup after suffering a lower-body injury against the Ducks on January 26th. Apparently, Hornqvist jumped right back in without skipping a beat, picking up an assist on Shea Weber’s goal and took twelve shots on goal.
  • Paul Gaustad suffered an “upper-body” injury in the first period, taking him away from the rest of the game. The Predators took a hit on the face-offs, with Colorado winning 29 of 46 of them. Yikes. Gaustad’s injury remains unknown and his condition is said to be “day-to-day” at this point.
  • Chris Mason got the nod as starter for the game, though it wasn’t exactly the presence he intended to make. Pekka would have to come in during the second period to take over, after Mason allowed two goals in just sixteen seconds.

 

As we mentioned before, the NHL admitted that Duchene’s goal should have been waved as he was offsides, but that does not help the Predators now, who would have eventually tied the game late in the third period, sending the game into overtime, which could have produced an entirely different outcome. But the nothing can be done now. The final score is in the books and, although we are not bitter about it (Duchene did what any player would do), when will the NHL take responsibilty for their linesmen missing such obvious calls?

The Predators head home to face the much missed (NOT) Jordin Tootoo and his Detroit Red Wings tomorrow night at home. Tickets are still available, but expect the 21st consecutive sellout tomorrow night.

Until then,
GO PREDS

Frustration Builds as Predators fall 4-0 to Coyotes

It has to be frustrating to more than just the fans, right?

Is frustration building amongst the team or is it just amongst the fan base? It would be difficult to believe that the team wouldn’t be, as the season just isn’t adding up to what they imagined thus far. It isn’t as if the Predators are just daydreaming along, but they just can’t seem to get the upper-hand when it comes to hammering a nail in the win column. The Predators had plenty of opportunities tonight, but again, the Predators just couldn’t squeeze one in, inevitably locking the 4-0 shutout in favor of the Coyotes. Here are the highlights from tonight’s game:

KEY POINTS:

  • Jonathon Blum and Brian McGrattan continue to sit on the scratched list, with Patric Hornqvist joining them, for what looks like 3-4 weeks with a sprained knee.
  • Although the Predators came out on fire, the Coyotes scored first, with a wrister from Antoine Vermette past Pekka Rinne at the three-minute mark in the first (his third goal of the season). Phoenix would out-shoot the Predators 5 to 3 in the first period.
  • The second period would produce another goal for the Coyotes, sending Phoenix up 2-0 at 16:48 with a wrist shot by Lauri Korpikoski (third goal of the season). Phoenix would again out-shoot Nashville, this time 9 to 7.
  • Poor passing attempts would prove fatal for the Predators in the third, with Nick Johnson notching his first goal of the season with a – get this – wrister past Peks at 11:34.

The Predators were given plenty of powerplay opportunities, and managed to shutdown all six penalty kills awarded to the Coyotes. Here are the six troublemakers:

  1. Rich Clune – 15:12 1st Period – Fighting
  2. Craig Smith – 6:28 2nd Period – Hooking
  3. Matt Halischuk – 11:03 2nd Period – Interference
  4. Martin Erat – 5:24 3rd Period – Roughing
  5. Colin Wilson – 8:08 3rd Period – Too many men/ice
  6. Gabriel Bourque – 13:15 3rd Period – Tripping

Frustration. The word of the day, folks. We can’t imagine the team and the fans are feeling anything else. The second shutout of the season, the Predators are needing more help than we first imagined. Poor passes, unnecessary penalties, and zero offense won’t get you into the post season, especially when you are working with a 48-game season, and you’ve already lost five of the six.

What can the Predators do to reach Stanley Cup potential? I am afraid we’ve exhausted all of our options, but as a UT/Titans fan, you have to keep your head held high. Still early, the Predators can bounce back.

KEEP CALM AND GO PREDS.