Rinne convinced he's healthy, unsure what to do next

Now that the NHL season has ended, Pekka Rinne has to decide whether or not he wants to keep playing.

The Nashville Predators goalie missed more than 50 games along the way with an infection in his hip but won three of his last four starts capped by Saturday’s 7-5 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Two nights earlier he became the franchise’s all-time leader in wins with 162 and extended his franchise record for shutouts to 32.

He can try to make up some of the missed games by playing for Finland at the World Championships, which take place next month at Minsk, Belarus, or he can spend the bulk of the offseason focused on much-needed conditioning, particularly for the lower body.

So what does he want to do?

“That’s a good question,” he said last Thursday. “I’ve been kind of circling that thought in my mind. You never know when it’s your last chance to represent Finland and, obviously, in Europe that’s always a big deal. It’s something I’m going to consider really hard. I need to see the doctor, talk with [general manager] David [Poile] and everything like that. I haven’t made any kind of decision yet.”

Rinne’s national team experience is limited to appearances at two World Championships (2009 and 2010). He was 6-4 in 10 games during those tournaments.

He was a candidate to be on Finland’s 2014 Olympic team, which ultimately won the bronze medal, before the hip infection sidelined him in late October.

“Right now I feel like there’s still a lot of things I need to do just for the fact that I missed so much time,” Rinne said. “I need this next summer to stay healthy and have a good training season. There’s no denying that there’s some things – like the leg strength or some things like that – it’s not where it needs to be for me or where it used to be. Obviously, playing more games you can tell that.”

He played 15 of the Predators’ final 21 games and finished the season 10-10-3 with a 2.77 goals-against average.

That heavy workload down the stretch convinced him that the issue with his hip is a thing of the past.

“As for my hip it feels really good,” he said. “It feels totally healthy. Even [last offseason] when I came back and the season started it was all the time a little bit sore and little bit off. Now I don’t even have to think about it. So that’s a great thing.”

All he needs to think about now is what to do next.