Pekka Rinne

It’s the battle of 28-year-old Finnish goalies that don’t know each other tonight in Nashville

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The NHL’s Finnish goaltending brethren is not exactly huge. Currently, there are only six goalies hailing from the Nordic nation, so you’d sorta expect them to all be buddies. Or, at the very least, know who each other are.

[Aside: Canadians are familiar with this. If we inform someone of our nationality, there’s a 50 percent chance they’ll respond with “Oh cool, Canada! Hey, do you know Jeff? He’s from Canada. He’s kinda tall, black hair…”]

This isn’t the case for San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. According to David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News, the two barely know each other.

Niemi and Rinne are both 28, though the Nashville netminder is nine months older and has an extra 79 games in the NHL. The Sharks goalie does remember playing against him a couple times in Finland at age 19 — but that’s about it.

Never teammates, not even in national competition. Didn’t go through the same training program. No contact away from the ice.

“He’s from north Finland,” Niemi explained.

Oooh, snap. Sensing some contempt there from Niemi (who hails from Vantaa, in the south) towards Northern Finland. Kinda like how the rest of Canada looks down on Vancouver as a pot-smoking hippie commune. Well we sure showed them during the riots, didn’t we!

Anyway, back to the goalies for tonight’s game:

— Niemi’s only played in three games after missing the start of the year with a knee cyst. He’s looked okay — registering wins in Boston and New Jersey — but his numbers are pedestrian: 2.63 GAA and .900 save percentage. That said, his 37-save win over Boston on Saturday was easily his best of the season.

— Rinne’s posted solid numbers (2.50 GAA, .924 save percentage) but has been hung out to dry on a number of occasions. He faced 30-plus shots in each of his first four games and was burned for four goals on 16 shots (in the first period) before getting yanked in Vancouver. The Preds allowed an average of 30.6 shots per game last year, but this season they’re up to 33.9. That’s the most in the league.

Update: Wisniewski tore ACL 47 seconds into ‘Canes debut

James Wisniewski, John-Michael Liles, Elias Lindholm
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Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.

Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.

From the club:

Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.

Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.

This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.

Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.

Jordan Weal to make NHL debut for Kings

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Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.

Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.

A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.

“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”

The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.

Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap