The Hockey News player of the week for the period of March 15-21, 2010 is Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne.
It was a busy week for the Finnish ‘tender, who started four times as the Preds are in the thick of the playoff hunt.
The Predators hosted the Flyers Tuesday and Rinne faced a 45-shot barrage, turning aside 42 and stoning the Flyers shooters in a shootout, pulling out a 4-3 win for his team.
Two nights later the Preds faced the floundering Minnesota Wild, who managed only 17 shots on net. Rinne had little trouble turning aside all the rubber he faced, while his team peppered the Wild net for five goals, en route to a 5-0 win.
On Saturday, Nashville played the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets, a team that has had trouble scoring this season. Facing a much stiffer test in seeing 33 shots, Rinne was the backbone of the Preds effort. The 27-year-old turned aside every shot he faced in regulation, but the game still went into overtime, where the Preds won, 1-0. The shutout was Rinne’s sixth of the season, one off his career-high total from last year.
Finally, Rinne returned between the pipes the very next night as the Predators traveled to St. Louis. Rinne allowed two goals on 25 shots, earning his 28th win of the season, which is also one off his career-best of 29 set last season.
With four wins on the week, Nashville has all but solidified its spot in the playoffs. With nine games to play, Nashville sits fifth with 89 points in the Western Conference and finish with six games at home.
Rinne has a 28-13-4 record with six shutouts, a 2.59 GAA and .908 save percentage this season.