Pekka Rinne

Goalie nods: Pekka back for Preds

All the latest from the blue paint…

Rinne Returns

Pekka Rinne will start in goal for Nashville — for the first time since Jan. 19 — when the Preds host the Ducks tonight at Bridgestone.

Rinne, the NHL’s wins leader (29), had been playing at a Vezina- and Hart-worthy level prior to suffering a sprained knee three weeks ago, posting a .931 save percentage and 1.96 GAA. While Nashville did well in his absence (Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec combined to go 4-2-2), Rinne’s return will be a massive boost, especially against a Ducks team that’s tied on 72 points with the Preds, but trails in the standings because of the regulation wins tiebreaker.

For Anaheim, Frederik Andersen will get the start in goal.


Blues at Sabres: Jake Allen vs. Jhonas Enroth

Isles at Flyers: Jaroslav Halak vs. Steve Mason

Caps at Sens: Braden Holtby vs. Robin Lehner

Kings at Panthers: Roberto Luongo for Florida, Jonathan Quick likely for L.A.

Bolts at Stars: Andrei Vasilevskiy for Tampa Bay, Kari Lehtonen likely for Dallas.

Wings at Avs: Petr Mrazek for Detroit, no word on a Colorado starter.

‘Canes at Coyotes: Cam Ward vs. Mike Smith

Sharks at Canucks: Ryan Miller for Vancouver, Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.

Rinne ‘100 percent,’ will start for Preds in key tilt vs. Ducks


After missing the last eight games with a knee sprain, Pekka Rinne will be back in goal for Nashville on Thursday when the Preds take on the Ducks in a top-of-the-table clash.

“I feel really good,” Rinne said, per the team website. “I feel 100 percent and feel ready to go. It’s never a good time to be injured, but I’m feeling good.”

Rinne was enjoying a banner campaign prior to getting hurt against Vancouver on Jan. 13. He was — and still is — the NHL’s wins leader (with 29), and currently boasts a 1.96 GAA and .931 save percentage. Those numbers made him not just Nashville’s MVP through the first half of the season, but also put him in the Hart Trophy conversation as league MVP (along with another goalie, Montreal’s Carey Price.)

His first game back, however, will be a stiff test. The Ducks are tied on 72 points with Nashville atop the NHL standings and the last time the two met, Anaheim narrowly came out on top in a 4-3 shootout win — but it was Carter Hutton in goal for Nashville that night, not Rinne.

Will Nashville ‘go for it’ at trade deadline?


The NHL-leading Nashville Predators — now 4-2-2 since losing Pekka Rinne to injury — don’t seem primed for the plateau some expected, and are firmly in the conversation for Stanley Cup contention.

Which begs the question — will history repeat itself?

From ESPN:

When we spoke with Nashville Predators general manager David Poile last month, he said a top-six forward would be his priority ahead of the March 2 trade deadline.

Just what exactly he will do remains to be seen, but word is the veteran Nashville hockey man is calling around quite a bit.

“David, I think, wants to go for it, that’s the sense I get,” one Eastern Conference team executive told Tuesday.

 Not overly surprising to hear.

During the 2011-12 campaign, Nashville went into the Feb. 27 trade deadline as a top-four team in the Western Conference, with a 36-19-7 record and 79 points. Accordingly, Poile made a bounty of moves to put the Preds over the top: Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitsyn were acquired from Montreal, Paul Gaustad was brought in from Buffalo and Alexander Radulov was shipped over from the KHL.

“We’ve put ourselves in a real good position here,” Poile said after dust settled, per the Nashville City Paper. “[The moves] have certainly given us a chance to play with the big boys this year. We’re done. I’d say we’re real happy. We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.

“Each one of these players has a role and can add to what I think is already a good team. I think we’ve done a lot. We’ve done as much, if not more, than anybody else.”

Nashville, of course, did not end up playing with the big boys. They flamed out in the second round of the playoffs with a disappointing five-game loss to the Coyotes — a series highlighted (or, lowlighted) by Kostitsyn and Radulov getting suspended for breaking team curfew.

In the end, Poile’s aggression at the deadline backfired. Only Gaustad remains with the team and the Preds flatlined quickly thereafter, missing the next two postseasons.

Which brings us back to the present. Poile’s past moves could be used as a learning lesson… or, a foreshadow of what’s to come. It’s hard to suggest he’ll suddenly get gun-shy, because he’s been traditionally aggressive at the trade deadline well beyond 2012; in ’11, he got Mike Fisher out of Ottawa and, during the 2006-07 season, kicked off the frenzy 12 days early by prying Peter Forsberg out of Philadelphia.

What does the league’s third longest-tenured GM have in store this time around?

Bobrovsky will miss All-Star Game, replaced by Elliott


The Columbus Blue Jackets have announced that Sergei Bobrovsky will miss the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.

That’s unfortunately not surprising after he left Wednesday’s contest due to a lower-body injury. If you missed what happened, you can see the incident below:

The Blue Jackets don’t have a timetable for his return. In the meantime, Brian Elliott has been tapped as his replacement for the All-Star Game, per the St. Louis Blues. Elliott has only made 22 starts this season, but he does have a superb 1.86 GAA and .930 save percentage.

Bobrovsky is amazingly the third All-Star goaltender to get hurt before the game following Pekka Rinne and Jimmy Howard. Marc-Andre Fleury and Jaroslav Halak took their place. As you may have noticed, the injuries have led to both of the Blues goaltenders at the start of the 2013-14 campaign being included for the festivities.


The injury news isn’t all bad in Columbus

Ahead of Trotz’s Nashville return, read ‘Music City Miracle’ on NBC’s Sportsworld


Tonight promises to be an emotional affair in Nashville when Barry Trotz — the first-ever Predators head coach, who held his title for 15 years — makes his return to the Music City as the head coach of the Washington Capitals.

Trotz has a special bond with Nashville, and it with him. For more on that connection, be sure to check out the piece CSN Washington’s Chuck Gormley wrote for NBC Sportsworld, which highlights Trotz’ involvement with Best Buddies — a program that develops friendships, employment opportunities and leadership skills for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities — in the state of Tennessee.

An excerpt, from Music City Miracle:

Like many parents of children with disabilities, Capitals coach Barry Trotz and his wife, Kim, had those same concerns for their son, Nolan, who also has Down syndrome. But until [Best Buddies state director Anneliese] Barron came to Trotz with the idea of developing a Best Buddies program in the state of Tennessee, neither had any idea what they could accomplish.

The two met for lunch in 2009 and when Trotz agreed to speak at a Best Buddies fundraiser, the donations started rolling in.

“No one knows who I am, but everyone knows who Barry Trotz is,” Barron said. “He just dove in headfirst.”

Before long, former Predators defenseman Dan Hamhuis was matched with a buddy and defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Pekka Rinne did the same, inviting their new friends into the Predators locker room.

Trotz, who showed up with a handful of autographed jerseys and sticks at the first fundraiser for Best Buddies, became so driven to get the program off the ground that he bought jerseys from every NHL team and had them autographed for auction items.

When Brad Paisley, Aerosmith or any other band rolled into Nashville to play at Bridgestone Arena, Trotz would buy dozens of guitars and get them signed by band members, auctioning them off as fundraisers.

By January 2010, Best Buddies of Tennessee reached its goal of $200,000 and officially opened its doors with Barron as its part-time state director. In the five years since, Best Buddies has grown from less than 100 participants in two colleges to close to 4,000 participants in 80 middle schools, high schools and colleges throughout Tennessee. Barron is now joined by 14 Best Buddies staff members.

“I can see the change in people’s attitudes because of the program,” Barron said. “Even though Matthew [her son, now 8] doesn’t have his own buddy right now, I can sense the attitude and the acceptance is already different for him.

“It makes me want to cry.”

Tributes to Trotz and his legacy in Nashville have been running all day. Two more worth checking out:

The Washington Post looks at Trotz’s impact on both the city and the development of its hockey community.

Yahoo looks at how Trotz gave the Predators their name, identity and foundation.