NHL Playoff Questions: Who Will Be This Year's Breakout Goalie?
6. Who is going to be this year’s breakout goaltender?
Every few years, a team finds it ways to the Stanley Cup Finals behind the confident pads of a little-known goaltender. The Ducks did it with J.S. Giguere in 2007 (the Hurricanes and Cam Ward and the Flames and Miikka Kiprusoff also come to mind).
This year’s candidate: Predators’ goalie Pekka Rinne.
Who knew Nashville could produce something newsworthy outside of country music and a Bud Adams bird flip?
In his third full season as the Predators’ starting netminder, Rinne won 33 games, saved 92 percent of the shots he faced, posted six shutouts and recorded a 2.12 goals against average that was second only in the Western Conference to Roberto Luongo.
Nashville struggles to score goals (2.6 per game) and only has two players who recorded 50-point seasons (the fewest of any team in the playoffs).
To add to their problems, the Predators’ defense outside of All-Star Shea Weber (who is a contender for both the Vezina and Hart Trophies), is mediocre at best. Nashville gives up more than 30 shots on goal per game.
At 6-foot-5, Rinne is about as intimidating a figure in net as there is in the NHL -- he's also the only chance Nashville has at winning their first playoff series in team history.
Even with all that pressure, something tells me Rinne will be making sweet music in goal on the way to becoming a household name by May.
Be sure to check out the other five NHL Playoff questions.
Email Dave Dulberg.