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Running Ragged: Is Rinne the New Kiprusoff?


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Photo Credit: Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Pekka Rinne is coming off the largest signing in Predators history, a 7 yr/$49 Million contract, and has been on fire putting up tremendous numbers including being tied for the league lead in shutouts, 7th in wins and 1st in Saves.

Yet, in the aftermath of the Columbus overtime loss, the shooting gallery from the Edmonton Oliers and the up-endings in Minnesota and Detroit, is Pekka Rinne starting to wear out? And with the amount of games that Rinne has started, is Lindback getting enough of a workload to assist when Rinne doesn’t start?

Pekka Rinne has started and played in more games than any other goaltender in the NHL (although tied with Carey Price and Cam Ward). This workload has contributed to his staggering numbers and an All-Star ballot appearance and as Terry Crisp and many others who follow the Predators have pointed out, an abundance of starts only makes Rinne more dangerous and keeps him in the zone similar to a former Nashville goaltender: Tomas Vokoun.

So far in the 2011-2012 season, Rinne has posted a 10-7-4 record with a 2.47 GAA and a .925 Sv%.

These numbers are good enough that Rinne should finally get the All-Star nod that has snubbed him over the last two seasons. The only problem with any of these stats is the 21 games played. Rinne is the workhorse of the Nashville Predators and with the offense not putting up more shots against their opponents, it is up to Rinne to become a brick wall and play beyond expectation for the Predators to stay in most games. Rinne has thrived amidst this kind of attention, but in an 82 game schedule and playing 21 out of 22 games for the Predators so far, the fatigue and off-games might catch up to not only Rinne but the Predators organization.

It wasn’t that long ago when teams would ride a stud goaltender into the ground with a 90%+ starting rate. The first that comes to mind is Miikka Kiprusoff. In the last three seasons, Kiprusoff has started well over 90% of the season and where has that landed the Calgary Flames come playoff time?

2010-2011 – 71 Games Played – Didn’t qualify for playoffs
2009-2010 – 73 Games Played – Didn’t qualify for playoffs
2008-2009 – 76 Games Played – Defeated in First Round Playoffs

To compare Nashville’s offensive prowess to Calgary is laughable and Calgary couldn’t make the playoffs two out of the last three seasons with formidable talent such as Glencross, Iginla, Bouwmeester and Bourque to name a few.

Pekka Rinne has done a phenomenal job back-stopping for the Nashville Predators and many fans would love to see him play out the remainder of his contract as one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL. But one has to wonder how long Rinne can keep up this level of play, especially given the amount of games he has already played and will continue to play in order for Nashville to stay in playoff contention throughout the season.

What say you? Should Rinne get less starts in favor of Lindback to not only give Rinne a break but to develop Lindback’s game? Does Rinne get better and better the more opportunities he is given or the more shots he faces?