Preds hope for more from Rinne in 2013-14


At face value, Pekka Rinne didn’t handle the title of $7 million goalie very well in 2013.

His save percentage plummeted to .910 after he registered sterling .923 and .930 marks the previous two seasons. Perhaps even worse for a workhorse goalie: his record was below .500 at 15-16-8.

Context clues

A closer look might argue that Rinne’s work tends to rise and fall with the way the Nashville Predators play in front of him.

Sure, you hope that a guy in his pay grade can overcome difficult circumstances, but there wasn’t as much slippage as you might expect.

The 30-year-old netminder’s even-strength save percentage was .927, which more or less falls in line with his work from recent seasons. Much of his struggles likely come in lockstep with bigger picture problems for Nashville (which probably have a least something to do with losing 2013 Norris Trophy finalist Ryan Suter).

The price of a big contract

Still, some serious pressure comes with that $7 million cap hit.

Rinne may need to steal some games to silence murmurs about that contract morphing into an albatross. It’s not particularly fair – especially considering the passive nature of his position – but that’s often how sports work.

Defense bolstered

On the bright side, the future of the defense in front of the big Finn looks increasingly bright. Shea Weber is in a select class of elite defensemen, Roman Josi is one of the league’s hidden gems and Seth Jones drew serious consideration as the top prospect from the 2013 NHL Draft.

Context likely explains some of Rinne’s best and worst moments up to this point, so the good news is that Nashville’s defensive outlook seems promising.

Now, if he could just get some goal support

More from Predators day at PHT

Can Jones make the jump?

Nashville preys for goals

Is Barry Trotz an elite coach?

Bettman to players: Don’t screw up ‘once-in-a-lifetime opportunity’ with drugs

Gary Bettman
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The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.

“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.

“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”

While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.

“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”

Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?

Goalie nods: Jones makes Sharks debut against ex-Kings mates

Martin Jones
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News and notes from around the crease…

Jones goes for San Jose

Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.

Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.

For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.

Markstrom out for Vancouver

Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.

Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.

For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.


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