The Man Behind the Mask...
Back in 2004, the Predators took a chance late in the draft on a lanky Finnish goaltender, selecting Pekka Rinne in the eighth round. Rinne served as a backup to Niklas Backstrom with his hometown team of Karpat Oulu of the SM-Liiga, and captured the league championship in both 2004 and 2005. From there, it was on to the city of the bronze Fonz, biding his time for three seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals while he waited for his chance with the big club. He had few cups of coffee with the Preds in those seasons, playing a total of three games in Nashville, but wouldn't get his first real shot until the 2008-2009 campaign when he was slated to back up Dan Ellis. Instead, Pekka rose to the challenge and supplanted Ellis as the starter, picking up 29 wins and 7 shutouts (setting a new franchise record.) There's been no turning back since then...
Things didn't start out so well for Pekka as he went down with injury in the very first game of the 2010-2011 season. He'd play well upon his return, putting up decent statistics, but as the calendar turned to January, his play went from good to great. Over the last four months of the regular season, Rinne turned in a save percentage of (.935) moving all the way up to second in the category by the 82nd game. The result was a pair of Third Star of the Month honors from the league (January and March) and a playoff berth for Nashville.
It's hard to find a comparison for Pekka Rinne. His idol growing up was Patrick Roy, but stylistically there isn't much in common. Roy was the prototype butterfly goalie whereas Rinne relies more on his reflexes and athletic prowess, able to stab pucks out of mid-air with his glove hand or dart across the net for a split-second pad save.
Pekka Rinne Defined:
A calm and collected netminder who anticipates the opponent's moves. Excels in the shootout. Ranks among the league's top goaltenders in wins, shots against, saves and minutes played.
Thursday November 3rd, 2011:
Greatest Birthday Ever...
Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) agreed to a seven-year, $49 million contract extension and beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-0 in a shutout.
"You realize your options when you come to this point and you're an unrestricted free agent. This was my No. 1 choice, and I'm just relieved and I'm so happy we got it done." Pekka Rinne--