Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne looked stellar in the 4-1 victory over the Florida Panthers. In the evening game of the double header with the Panthers, Rinne stopped 22 of 23 shots including some tremendous glove saves. This was Rinne’s first full game in the preseason after previously playing half of Thursday night’s game against Tampa Bay.
“It felt good to play,” said Rinne. “It’s just nice to get a full game under your belt. That hasn’t happened since the World Championships. I thought that we played really well. A really aggressive style of game. I like that.”
Bringing in a new system that tends to focus more on offense can be electrifying in creating goal-scoring opportunities, but it’s also important that the defense remain focused.
“They played really well,” said Rinne about the Nashville defense. “They (the Panthers) didn’t have that many chances. I thought overall we played well defensively.”
With this being the first full game, albeit preseason, for Rinne, it’s important for him to get in game shape. Predators head coach Peter Laviolette understands that getting a goaltender plenty of minutes before the season starts is vital.
“It comes down to reps, for sure,” said Laviolette. “We’ve got to be game ready. Exhibition season is about evaluation. It’s about implementing a system, conditioning and pace. It’s also about preparing to make sure you win the first game. Those goaltenders need reps.”
Getting reps with a change on the ice is also in need of consideration. Something that goaltenders all across the league will have to get used to this season is the change in the size of the trapezoid. The National Hockey League implemented a new rule this season expanding the width of the trapezoid, where a goaltender is allowed to play the puck behind the net, by two feet. It’s definitely a change, but Rinne hasn’t noticed it very much yet.
“Obviously I try to help our [defense] and play the puck as much as I can,” said Rinne. “I haven’t really noticed too much of a difference though. I guess you notice it if you see a picture.”
Once more games are played, it’ll be interesting to see if goaltenders take advantage of the extra room to play the puck and/or get burned by doing so. One thing is for sure, and it’s that Pekka Rinne is already looking to assert himself as one of the best goaltenders in the league again.
Full interview with Rinne:
Full post game presser with Peter Laviolette: