Pekka Rinne: The Gift of Absorption

Justin Goldman

2008-12-08

 Rinne

 

Like giant glowing moons, the two ominous I’s of goaltending linger and sulk in the night sky. One of them, Injury, represents the physical component of the position, along with the notion that anyone can fall victim to the dreaded IR list. The other is Inconsistency, representing the mental toughness component, along with the notion that “hot streaks” or “crease takeovers” don’t last very long. And sometimes they don’t even last for an entire week.

 

Welcome to the Land of Confusion. It’s an unbearable, amorphic world out there, one where we are left gasping for fresh air, a change, a quick shot of oxygen. But today there is a real reason to breathe freely. All hail Finland’s Pekka Rinne, the amalgamation of all the necessary ingredients needed to succeed at the NHL level. This warrior is the real deal, blessed with something special – the gift of absorption.

Rinne learned important facets of the position as a backup to Niklas Backstrom in 2003-04 for Karpat. Rinne’s game developed like many of Finland’s finest; shaped and formed slowly over time. By 2005 Rinne had progressed to the AHL, earning a chance with the Milwaukee Admirals. But during an off-season in the summer of 2006 in Finland, he was suspiciously roughed up by some unknown native assailants. This baffling turn of events forced off-season shoulder surgery, which resulted in Rinne missing the start of the 2006-07 AHL season.

To be attacked and roughed up by deranged thugs is one thing, but to push the reset button and return to the AHL stronger and better than ever (in just four months) is quite another. In 29 games total that season, Rinne went 15-7-6 with a 2.34 GAA and .920 save percentage. With this run came plenty of interest from Nashville, thus making Chris Mason expendable. Sure enough, Mason was traded to the Blues after the 2007-08 regular season and Rinne had no problem securing a roster spot alongside Dan Ellis.

And while Rinne’s first outing of the season was a forgettable night, since then he has gone on quite a hot streak. He rattled off a pair of shutouts last week against Minnesota and Buffalo and added a 3-2 win over Colorado to boot. The three straight wins is part of an impressive 6-0-0 record, 2.25 goals against average and .917 save percentage. His play has the Predators on a roll with four wins in five games and not only is Nashville getting balanced scoring and taking fewer penalties, but the defensemen are also blocking a ton of shots.

On the surface, it was Rinne’s sponge-like ability to soak up the game d