When the lockout began almost 45 days ago, Predators fans wondered when they would get a chance to see some of the favorite players: Shea Weber, Patric Hornqvist, Martin Erat, and of course Pekka Rinne. With Rinne darting to the KHL for the time being until the CBA is agreed upon, most of us figured the Finnish dynamo would be head-and-shoulders above the competition overseas and show the world outside of Finland and the NHL why he’s one of the best goaltenders in the world.
As of this post, Pekka Rinne is the worst goaltender in the entire KHL.
Take a second and read it sentence one more time:
Pekka Rinne is the worst goaltender in the entire KHL
Stings, doesn’t it? Now, it doesn’t help when his defensemen in front of him have a combined +/- of -26 and it surely doesn’t help when you are a goaltender and you find yourself way out of position trying to play a puck on the far edge of the rink (See the video here). However, let’s check out Rinne’s stats and see for ourselves:
Record? 5-6-0. Well, that’s not too bad.
Save Percentage? 90.6%. Well….that’s kinda bad. (Dead last in the KHL)
Goals Against Average? 2.78. Yikes. (31 of 32 in the KHL)
If this were last season in the NHL, his GAA would put him between Richard Bachman and Ray Emery for 62nd in the league while his Save Percentage ties him with Ondrej Pavelec of the Winnipeg Jets for 60th in the league.
So, what’s wrong with Rinne? Is the fact that he doesn’t have NHL world-class defensemen in front of him masking his inabilities to play goal? I don’t buy that.
While having Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in front of him definitely helps to keep the puck away from the net and less traffic overall, Rinne still made incredible save after save when the puck was most definitely going to reach the back of the net last season, and most times when Weber/Suter weren’t even on the ice. So scratch that excuse.
Could it be the decrease in speed from the NHL to the KHL? It’s possible. While that seems a likely culprit, I’m still not sure I even buy that. KHL players are still extremely good hockey players, however the larger ice surface slows down the game considerably due to the excessive amount of space of the international ice rink size compared to a regulation NHL ice rink.
However, the speed change in the game could definitely be the culprit if you truly think about the reasons behind it. Compare it to when your driving. Say you’re used to driving 70 miles an hour, but your interstate changed it’s speed limit to 50 miles an hour (a norm 60 years ago when the interstate system didn’t exist). You would feel like you’re driving at the pace of a snail, correct?
Perhaps the same thing is happening here.
While we don’t know for sure (and most NHL fans aren’t paying attention to the KHL currently) it’s staggering to see Pekka Rinne, a usual front-runner for Vezina favorite the past few years, be at the very bottom of the KHL’s stat leaders. While there could be plenty of reasons behind it, Preds fans have fair reason to worry if the loss of Ryan Suter will definitely impact the play of Pekka Rinne when the NHL returns.
Am I worried? No, not until the season starts and we see if Weber/Klein/Josi/Ellis/Gill/Hannan can effectively play the same level of defense (maybe better) that we’ve seen from the Predators over the past few seasons. Until then, though, it’s quite strange to hear the words “Pekka Rinne” and “worst goaltender” in the same sentence and it be a statistically accurate fact.