Vezina Favorite Rinne Out 3-5 Weeks, Mazanec Up From Ads
By Greg Moshopoulos@GreekGoalie35
The news could’ve been much worse, but the Nashville Predators revealed that starting goaltender Pekka Rinne suffered a grade II knee sprain and is expected to miss 3-5 weeks. Rinne was injured in the early stages of the 3rd period against Vancouver when he awkwardly collided with teammate Anton Volchenkov and Canucks forward Chris Higgins and did not return to action. Given the timetable for recovery, Rinne will miss anywhere between 9-15 games.
Carter Hutton now takes the reigns as he did last season when Rinne missed 51 games due to the infection in his surgically repaired hip. Hutton filled in Tuesday and was praised by coach Laviolette for being the best player on the ice immediately upon entering as the Preds were under siege in their own zone. Hutton was solid in making 10 saves the rest of the way in securing the victory, pushing their home record to a league-leading 17-2-1. It was also Hutton’s first appearance on home ice during this season as he has oft been given the duties of the 2nd of back-to-back games on the road versus strong opponents.
The question then became who the Predators would call up from Milwaukee…. Marek Mazanec or Magnus Hellberg? The decision made, at least initially, is Mazanec. The 6’4” Czech native has come on strong of late for the Admirals going 4-0-2 in his last 6 starts, although overall posting mediocre numbers with a .907 sv% and 2.49 gaa. Many recall he played in 25 games for the Predators last year, earning Rookie of the Month honors last November for his strong play which included a win vs Chicago followed by his first career shutout in a 2-0 victory at Detroit, whom the Preds play Saturday.
The fact the Preds called up Mazanec and not Hellberg is still a little puzzling. Hellberg earned a spot on the AHL All-Star team with a 9-4-2 record, .934 sv% and 1.72 gaa which are significantly better than that of Mazanec. Even prior to Rinne’s injury, I believed that the team would call up Hellberg at some point to see if he is ready to take that next step. Time will tell if they eventually make the switch after the AHL All-Star Game to give him that chance.