When the Nashville Predators visited San Jose on March 8th, Sharks Head Coach Todd McLellan said “I hear there is consideration of Rinne for the Hart. I wouldn’t argue that.”
The Hart Trophy is awarded to the player who is considered to be the most valuable to his team.
In the New York Times “Morning Skate” on March 21, Christopher Botta wrote “Pekka Rinne deserves consideration to be the third man when the finalists are announced. The Nashville goaltender is as valuable to the Predators as any player — forward, defenseman or goalie — is to his team.” Steven Stamkos and Daniel Sedin are considered the favorites.
Predators Captain Shea Weber credits Rinne for Nashville’s strong playoff push down the stretch. “We know how good he is. He’s our MVP. Without him I don’t think we would be in this situation right now. He might not get the recognition around the League but we know how important he is to us.”
Head Coach Barry Trotz agrees. After the Predator beat the Boston Bruins in overtime on March 17th, Trotz said it was Rinne who kept Nashville in the game. “He was spectacular all game,” Trotz said, adding ” that’s why he is a Vezina and Hart candidate.”
It wasn’t just against Boston that Rinne kept Nashville in it. Shane O’Brien leads the Predators in short-handed ice time. “He’s been our best player all year, most consistent player all year,” O’Brien said, of the Kempele, Finland native, adding “we lean on him a little bit too much sometimes. He gives us a chance to win every night and we are lucky to have him.”
Another main piece to the Predators penalty kill, Nick Spaling, wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Rinne’s name on the list of Hart Trophy nominees. “If he won that, it would be well deserved. He’s proven himself to be one of the best goaltenders in the League and he’s been key to our success,” Spaling said.
Rinne’s numbers are undeniable. The 28 year old has a goals against average of 2.06, just .01 back of League leader Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. His save percentage is .930, also second to Thomas.