Pekka Rinne picked up his League-leading 37th win Thursday night against the Colorado Avalanche at a sold out Bridgestone Arena. The win also earned Rinne the franchise-record for most wins in a single season, set by Tomas Vokoun during the 2005-06 campaign.
“He means a lot to this team,” rookie Craig Smith said, adding, “He is always there making those crazy saves day in and day out whether it is practice or a game. He is unbelievable.”
Smith says playing against Rinne in practice gives the rookie added confidence in game situations. “His angles in practice are so hard to shoot at. It makes you feel better in a game. He is pretty challenging. I’m glad I get to shoot at him everyday,” he said.
Center Nick Spaling says Rinne gives the team a chance to win every game. “Ever since he has become number one, he has been huge for this team. He never takes days off. We have a lot of confidence in him. You know he is going to give you a chance every night.”
Rinne’s 37 wins come in only 60 games played so far this season and he has improved every year. The 2008-09 season was Rinne’s first full season in the NHL. In 52 games, the Finnish netminder picked up 29 wins. The numbers improved to 32 wins in 58 contests in 2009-10. A season ago, Rinne picked up 33 wins in 64 games.
Earlier this season, Rinne was awarded with a 7-year contract worth $49 million. Rookie defenseman Ryan Ellis says the contract is indicative of the belief the Predators organization has in their goaltender.
“He is unbelievable. You can see that with the contract he received from the team. He definitely earned it. He has been lights out this year. He is one of the best, if not the best, goaltender in the League. He gets the job done almost every night,” Ellis said.
Brandon Yip agrees. Yip has only been a member of the Predators organization since the middle of January but offers high praise for Rinne. “He is unbelievable. I feel like he is so underrated in the League. He is the best goalie I have ever seen. In practice and in games, he is our backstop. He has been doing that ever since I’ve arrived and it is really fun to watch.”