Pekka Rinne’s return to the Nashville Predators is a done deal.
Team officials formally announced his recall Monday from a two-game conditioning assignment and said he would start Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The return of the two-time Vezina Trophy finalist, who missed 51 games with a serious infection in his hip, minimizes the Predators’ need to do something prior to Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline.
“… Getting Pekka Rinne back in goal, I can’t think of anybody that’s going to be able to add something better than that to their team,” general manager David Poile said last week.
The Predators currently ranks 23rd in the NHL in goals allowed per game at 2.92. At that pace they will allow 239 goals for the season, more than all but the first two seasons in franchise history.
A look at the Nashville’s highest goals-against averages:
(x-through 61 games; y-48 games)
It is worth noting that the Predators did not make the playoffs in any of the five completed seasons on that list.
Currently they are four points out of the final Western Conference playoff spot. However, there are four teams between them and eighth place.
“[Rinne] is probably the most important guy on our team,” coach Barry Trotz said. “No disrespect to Shea [Weber] but [Rinne] can steal games, absolutely steal games by himself. That’s what great goaltenders can do.
“Acquiring one of the best goaltenders, if he can get his game back. I mean, that’s a tall order to ask even from Pekka to get his game back in real quick order. If it does come back – and he’s done some great things – that [is] the best acquisition, no question.”