There’s a bit of a difference with Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne going into training camp this year. He’s a bit more joyful, more relaxed.
There are no distractions. He doesn’t have Dan Ellis nipping at his heels for the No. 1 goalie spot. An Olympic decision does not loom, and he has the security of a new two-year contract.
For the first time, Rinne will begin the season as Nashville’s unquestioned starting goaltender. The hope is that without disturbances, he will flash the form he showed at the end of last season, when he led the Predators into the playoffs and almost past the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Predators open camp today with physicals and off-ice testing. Practices start Saturday.
“You feel like this is your team,” Rinne said. “I’ve spent two years here. That brings the feeling that people want me to play here and I want to stay here. It’s a different situation than last year.”