A rolling puck rocketed toward Predators goalie Pekka Rinne during last Thursday’s game against the Canucks.
With the calmness and coolness of a seasoned baseball player, Rinne simply knelt down and fielded it with his glove.
“He could be a shortstop in some situations,” Predators goaltending Coach Mitch Korn said. Rinne’s natural attributes are easily identifiable.
At 6-foot-5, he can take up most of the net. He combines that with quickness, so he’s not often caught out of position. He’s a good stick-handler, which helps with outlet passes.But his ability to snuff second chances with his hands has helped turn Rinne into one of the top goaltenders in the NHL.
“He’s really active with those hands,” Predators forward Martin Erat said. “He knows how to stop it and you don’t have that many rebounds coming from him.”
When a puck comes at Rinne and he has a chance to catch it, his glove hand will often turn and twist and compensate just so he can stop the shot.
For example, it’s common to see Rinne backhand a shot headed for his blocker, rather than use his stick-hand to deflect it in another direction.
“I guess I’m just used to that,” Rinne said. “I’ve always been taught to use my hands. I guess that’s the way I’ve been taught to play and the way I want to play the game — to prevent the rebounds.”
Finnish goaltenders are often known for good glove work. This includes Miikka Kiprusoff of the Flames — today’s foe — and Niklas Backstrom of the Wild.
“I think that’s the way they teach the goalies over there — to be active and use their hands,” said Rinne, who is from Kempele, Finland. “That’s just the way all of us learned to play.”