click to enlarge
The Nashville Predators don't get a lot of respect. Unless the topic's Shea Weber
or the possibility of a team's collapse
, the North American press tends to view our hometown boys as hockey's equivalent to the Kansas City Royals. What? You still have a team?
But another Pred is now swimming among the league's bigger names. That would be goalie Pekka Rinne. On the Versus channel's Monday night telecast, the studio panel was practically gushing over the netminder. Rinne is currently second in the league in shutouts, and boasts a gaudy 2.23 goals-against with a .922 save percentage. (For non-hockey fans, it's akin to hitting .300 with 25 homers. In other words, really
Which left the studio panel talking about him not just as a rookie of the year candidate, but a possible Vezina Trophy winner, handed out each year to the league's best goalie.
Of course, NHL history is littered with hot young goalies who have quickly flamed. So it goes when you play the most difficult position in sport. And getting bragged up on Versus, better known for its Alaska dog mushing shows, isn't the same as getting slobbered over by Al Michaels. But it does back Pred management's claims that they're systemically rebuilding the franchise from the ground up -- and doing an impressive job of it.