Losing record at this — or any — point does not sit well with Rinne

Monday, November 29, 2010 at 5:20pm

Don’t ask Pekka Rinne to be discriminating when it comes to defeat. He cannot.

“The way right now the game is played, there’s overtime and there’s a shootout,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you lose in the overtime or shootout, I always feel like we lost the game. It feels pretty much the same as if you lose it after 60 minutes.”

That creates something of a problem for the Nashville Predators’ No. 1 goaltender given that he and his team have lost four in a row (two in regulation, two in shootouts). The most recent of those was a 2-1 shootout defeat Saturday against the New York Rangers.

Now the 28-year-old finds himself in the unusual position of having a losing record outside of the first month of the season. He currently is 6-7-4, the first time in his career he’s been below .500 at any point from Nov. 1 or later.

“It’s obviously so much easier to get over the goals when you win the game,” he said. “You don’t think about things, you just go through them. When you lose a game you just kind of pay special attention to the goals against and you start thinking, ‘Why did I do that? Why did I do this?’

“Those are the things that drive me to hopefully get better.”

Rinne began the 2009-10 season with three straight defeats but won his next four and 11 of the next 12 on his way to a 32-16-5 mark. His fourth victory came before the end of October and he remained above .500 the rest of the way.

In his first full NHL season, 2008-09, his first six decisions were victories and he finished 29-15-4. Prior to that, he appeared in three contests and had one win and one defeat. The victory came in his first NHL start, Dec. 15, 2005.

His current mark has not been helped by the fact that the Predators have scored just five times in their last five games.

“We need to get him some room to breathe,” coach Barry Trotz said. “That can be true of any goaltender. We have to get some goals. … Our number-one thing is we defend well, and then Pekka doesn’t have a lot of work. Defend first, and then the offense will piggy back off of that.”

Rinne’s record is one of the few things that is out of whack in terms of his statistics.

His current 2.49 goals-against average.914 save percentage are virtually identical to his career numbers in each regard (2.47 and .914, respectively).

One of only two Nashville goalies ever to play more than 50 games in consecutive seasons, he has started the last nine contests and has appeared in 17 of 22 overall. His starting streak could end when the Predators play back-to-back Tuesday against Phoenix (7 p.m. Bridgestone Arena) and Wednesday at Columbus.

“It’s about the coaching staff and how they feel,” he said. “Obviously, I try to be honest with myself but I feel good. There’s no problem with that, and I feel confident playing. So that’s a good thing.

“Right now, we just need the result. That’s the bottom line.”

That includes in the shootouts.

At 3-2 in those situations, he already has as many shootout defeats this season as he had in all of 2008-09 and is one shy of his total from last season, when he was 6-3.

“Obviously, every point is huge,” he said. “We know that you can’t take any points for granted because they are a lot of hard work and you have to play well to at least earn a point.

“We’ve lost too many overtime and shootout games now. It’s frustrating when you know there’s that chance to get another point and you don’t get it.”

Just as frustrating as if they don’t get any points.

Briefly

• Trotz said he is hopeful that David Legwand would skate Tuesday but it is not likely Legwand would play before Saturday, when the Predators are at home against Carolina.

Legwand has missed the last five games with a lower body injury.

Matthew Lombardi (concussion) remains out indefinitely. The Predators’ top free agent acquisition of the offseason has been sidelined since Oct. 14.

• The game with Phoenix will be just the fourth at home this month out of 13 total. Nashville has gone 4-6-2 this month and is guaranteed its worst November since it went 3-6-3-2 in 2002-03.

Next month’s schedule features 14 games with half at home and half on the road. Included among the home games are ones each of the next three Saturday nights.