Speculation turned to reality this morning when Pekka Rinne was named the NHL's First Star of the Week. In four games, Rinne was 4-0 with two shut outs and a goals against average of 1.22 and a save percentage of .958.
On Tuesday, Pekka stopped 42 of 45 shots as the Preds beat the Flyers 4-3 in a shootout. On Thursday, Rinne was brilliant in a 5-0 whitewashing of Minnesota. He extended his shutout streak on Saturday with a 1-0 overtime win over Columbus. Finally, Rinne's stellar work kept the Preds in Sunday's game with the Blues until their offense could come through in a 3-2 win.
Last Monday, Rinne was named the NHL Third Star of the Week when he was 2-0 and had another shutout.
In December, Rinne seemed somewhat disappointed with not being named to the Finnish Olympic team, but the rest during the Olympic break seems to have turned his season around.
Pekka has mentioned several times that he felt rested after the time off during the break when he traveled back to Finland to relax and have some fun with friends and relatives. On Tuesday, Pekka said "It was good to have a couple of weeks to have time off and think about things other than hockey. I feel like now everybody is more refreshed and energized."
The statistics speak for themselves. Rinne has turned his season around and taken full control of the Pred's number one goalie slot. Since the break, he is 8-1 with a 1.75 GAA, and a .935 save percentage. No other NHL goalie has been as important to their team during the month of March.
For the season Rinne has played 50 games and is 28-13-4 with six shutouts, all coming since the first of December. This follows a superb rookie year when many thought he should have been a finalist for the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL's Rookie of the Year.
As a rookie, Rinne played 52 games and was 29-15-0, with a 2.38 GAA and a .917 save percentage. He also had seven shut outs.
Last month, during the Olympic break, Rinne signed a new two year deal with he Predators so fans can feel secure that the big goalie will be in Nashville through 2012.
Congratulations to Pekka Rinne and his agent Jay Grossman for a job well done!
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass
Here is the full Three Stars Release from NHL.com...
Rinne's big week has Predators on a roll
Monday, 03.22.2010 / 12:05 PM / The Hot List
By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist
It has taken Pekka Rinne most of the season to become the unquestioned No. 1 goaltender in Nashville. Now that he is, he's carrying the Predators to the playoffs.
Rinne has been in goal for each of Nashville's last six games -- all victories. He was especially brilliant last week, putting up back-to-back shutouts against Minnesota and Columbus, and stopping 115 of the 120 shots he faced. That effort earned him the honor of being named NHL First Star of the Week.
He has allowed just seven goals in the six wins, three of them shutouts. The hot streak has improved his record to 28-13-4, and propelled the Predators into fifth place in the Western Conference with three weeks left in the season.
Second Star: John Tavares -- The No. 1 pick of the 2009 Entry Draft enjoyed the most productive week of his young NHL career with 3 goals and 7 points in three games -- including a 5-point night as the New York Islanders stunned Vancouver on March 16.
Third Star: Teemu Selanne -- The Finnish Flash joined the NHL's 600-goal club Sunday when he beat Craig Anderson to become the 18th player to reach the milestone. He also had an assist, and has 4 points in Anaheim's last two games.