He has a .788 save percentage at even-strength (7 goals on 33 shots) and a .777 save percentage overall in two losses, and was pulled from Game 2 on Wednesday after giving up four goals.
His teammates had his back after the game. “We’re extremely confident in him,” said defenseman P.K. Subban.
But in his postgame press conference, Predators coach Peter Laviolette declined to confirm that Rinne would start Game 3 – having been asked twice about it.
On Thursday, at a press conference in Nashville, Laviolette was asked again. His response? That the Predators had a policy about discussing potential lineup changes – such as when Mike Fisher was questionable for Game 1 of the series – and so “to stay consistent” he would not name a starting goalie for Saturday night’s Game 3.
When asked if his goalies knew who the starter would be, Laviolette paused and sighed and said, “yeah.”
Later, his PR staff clarified this:
Predators PR clarified with Laviolette afterwards… Goalies do NOT know who will start game 3 as of right now.
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 1, 2017
Rookie Juuse Saros is the Predators’ backup. He made two saves in relief of Rinne in Game 2, which is the totality of his playoff experience.
Rinne is the reason the Predators are in the Final, and was the clubhouse leader for the Conn Smythe heading into the Penguins’ series. He’s a beloved veteran player, signed through 2019. He’s been their heart and soul during this run.
However, he’s 1-7-2 in his career against the Penguins, including this series, with a .865 save percentage.
Is that history, plus the two-game deficit, enough for Laviolette to do something dramatic.
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