Rinne, Predators to proceed with caution following injury in opener

Monday, October 11, 2010 at 10:33pm

Pekka Rinne felt bad – in more ways than one.

The Nashville Predators’ goalie was sore and aching enough after being bent over backward when several players crashed into him and sent him all the way to the boards behind his net that he signaled to the bench he needed to come out of Saturday’s season-opening victory over Anaheim.

So at the next whistle, rookie Anders Lindback skated off the bench to take his place. That only made Rinne feel worse.

“You kind of feel bad. … I didn’t want Anders to come in like that, but he did great,” Rinne said. “Maybe it was better for him to come in like that – just jump right in the fire.

“I guess it was more a (precaution). It was the first game of the year. I was maybe a little nervous if something happened so I felt I was better off to get some rest.”

Officially, Rinne’s injury is classified as one to the lower body, but replays of the impact showed he got bent backward, which put stress on his knees. His status is considered day-to-day.

He sat out practice Monday but walked around the locker room area with no apparent discomfort. He was not ruled out for Nashville’s next game, Wednesday at Chicago, but plans were in place for Mark Dekanich to be recalled from Milwaukee.

“We’re going to recall Dekanich,” coach Barry Trotz said. “From that, we’ll just see where it is. If he needs to backup, he’s here. If he doesn’t need to we’ll send him right back. It’s just a precautionary thing.”

Last season, Rinne became just the second goalie in franchise history to play 50 games or more in consecutive seasons (Tomas Vokoun did it in three straight beginning in 2002-03).  In that time he has been unavailable for just one game (March 10, 2009) and that was because of illness.

It was noteworthy, therefore, when he pulled himself from the contest a little more than a minute after the collision.

“It was a few guys crashing into me,” he said. “It was a good hit, but I feel good. It’s just one of those things. I’m a little banged up but it’s just day-to-day.

“I feel an awful lot better than (Sunday). I had the day off, and it was good to get some rest and treatment.”

Any potential injury situation with Rinne is compounded by the fact that he is the only goalie in the organization with any meaningful NHL experience.

Lindback is a 22-year-old who is playing in North America for the first time.

“I’ve been fortunate to be in an organization like this,” he said. “I’m really glad they believe in me.

“I (came) over with an open mind to just go with anything that comes at me. … I came over to one day win games in the National Hockey League. I just work hard each day and take each day as it comes.”

His time might come as early as Wednesday, when the Predators go on the road to face Chicago, the reigning Stanley Cup champion and the team that eliminated Nashville from the playoffs. If Rinne is not ready, Lindback will make his first career start.

“I’ll have to do just what I’m used to doing to get prepared, just like every game,” he said. “I’m just going to work hard and do my best. We’ll see.”

Briefly

• Martin Erat sat out Monday’s practice because of back pain, which has been an issue in recent weeks.

He’s likely to miss even more workouts for the foreseeable future.

“You’re better off just maintaining it and getting it back rather than try to push through it,” Trotz said. “I think that just aggravates you more. If you can clear up stuff for the long haul, October’s really the best month to do it because once you get into playing every second day it’s tough to catch up.”