Pekka Rinne’s continued to bolster his case for postseason hardware after posting his sixth shutout of the season in the Predators’ 4-0 win over the Wild.
Tim Thomas has been the odds on favorite since October for the Vezina Trophy as the leagues best goalie, but Rinne has been on a season long mission to close the gap in the critical save percentage and goals against statistical categories.
After last night’s contest, Rinne cut the gap in goals against average to .07 with Thomas at 2.01 and Pekka at 2.08. In the save percentage category, Thomas now leads .939 to .930. Traditionally, .930 has been the measuring stick for an outstanding season as few netminders attain that number.
Barring a complete collapse, Thomas is still the odds on favorite will win the Vezina. Carey Price and Roberto Luongo will be Rinne’s strongest competition for the final three to attend the 2011 NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas.
The awards are truly viewed in the proper perspective that Rinne should be in the final three for the Hart Trophy that is “given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.” The Hart nomination would obviously be contingent on the Predators making the playoffs but if Rinne plays the final 15 games as is expected and he continues at his current pace, few could argue that anyone is more valuable to their team than Rinne is to the Predators.
Last night’s game was a rarity in that it wasn’t a one goal game with the weight of the world on Rinne’s shoulders.
“It was a little different than we usually play,” he said. “All those one goal games when it is so tight.”
Barry Trotz explained the Pressure Rinne has been under all season.
“From a goalie’s standpoint, mentally it can wear on you,” explained the Preds coach. “You’re in those one 1-0 games, 1-1 games, 2-2 games and one mistake can cost you the game. Today he had a little breathing room which was nice for him.”
Pekka Rinne has carried the Nashville Predators all season so it was nice for the team to give him a little breathing room, for a change, and allow him to relax a bit and win a game that didn’t go down to the closing second.