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From Behind The Mask: Rinne Vs Saros

By Greg Moshopoulos (@GreekGoalie35)

As the Preds push forward into their third straight postseason, players are getting some much needed rest to ensure a healthy lineup for the ride towards Lord Stanley’s Cup. One face not very familiar with being given nights off is that of Pekka Rinne. He is the stalwart of the franchise and leader in virtually every goaltending category in Nashville history, but his playoff performance has been questioned for years.

The Kempele, Finland native isn’t getting any younger and knows his chances of leading the team to a Cup are dwindling. The standard he has set during the regular season is so high, that even after an outstanding season (for the most part), his numbers basically mirrored his career averages. His playoff numbers are hardly inadequate, but his .912 sv% and 2.52 gaa are slightly worse than his regular season career of .917 & 2.38.

I personally don’t think he’s the biggest concern going into another playoff series with Chicago. Did he get outplayed by Scott Darling for the better part of the series two years ago? Yes. Is that REALLY why they lost? No. Does each playoff loss come under a microscope? Absolutely.

On the plus side, the 61 games he started is his lightest workload during a healthy season since the 2009-10 campaign in which he started 58. You can thank his Finnish compatriot, 21-year old Juuse Saros for that. The plan for Saros heading into the season was to let him work a full schedule in Milwaukee and groom him for the backup role next year. His performance in the AHL couldn’t be ignored, and along with the ineptitude of Marek Mazanec, he was catapulted into Rinne’s understudy by mid-season. Needless to say, he has far exceeded expectations, so much so that some fans have been clamoring for him to take over the starting role.

I’d like to say I’ll analyze that theory, but I’m not really even giving that any credence. Barring injury to Rinne, or him looking like Corey Crawford in games 1&2 from 2015, Saros is going to have a comfy seat on the bench for the duration of the playoffs. Some may want to retort by comparing this situation to Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray for the Penguins last year, but again, Murray only got the chance due to an injury.

There’s always a chance, albeit a very small one, that Lavy decides to replace a struggling Rinne with the rookie. After all, Laviolette rode a red-hot rookie by the name of Cam Ward when he won his only Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes. However, as far as I’m concerned, the championship aspirations in Nashville are going to be put squarely on Pekka Rinne between the pipes.

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