NASHVILLE -- Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who has missed the last four months with a hip infection, has been sent to the team's top minor-league affiliate on a conditioning assignment, raising the possibility that he could be back in goal in Nashville possibly by next Tuesday or Thursday.
"For sure, I feel like I'm really close to the game shape and now it's just a final couple of games before I jump on the ice with the Nashville team," he said.
Rinne led the NHL with 43 wins in 2011-12 and without him this season the Predators have struggled at times. They came out of the NHL's Olympic break four points out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference. He has not played since Oct. 22, after which the infection was discovered. He had undergone offseason hip surgery and then suffered an E. Coli infection that attacked where the surgery was performed. The infection had serious health implications.
Rinne said he was never scared for his life.
"No, I never thought of it in that w...