Big step: Rinne heads to AHL for conditioning stint, will play Friday

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Pekka Rinne is set to face game action for the first time in fourth months, as he’ll suit up for Nashville’s AHL affiliate in Milwaukee when the Admirals take on Iowa this Friday.

Rinne, 31, underwent major hip surgery during the summer and returned to play in just nine games before being hit with a serious bacterial infection. The setback sidelined Rinne on Oct. 22 and he’s missed the last 49 games a result.

The Preds have been extremely cautious with his rehabilitation, pushing back a number of timetables and set dates to ensure the hip recovers fully and without issue.

Last week, the Finnish netminder returned to practice and was allowed to “amp up” his level of intensity, suggesting a return to game action was close.  That said, Nashville GM David Poile said there’s no timetable for Rinne’s return to the Predators, and head coach Barry Trotz said Carter Hutton would remain the starter in the meantime.