Rinne, rest of Predators who rested during All-Star break get back to work

Monday, January 30, 2012 at 8:16pm

Pekka Rinne probably needed a break. His teammates and coaches believe the Nashville Predators goalie did not deserve one, though.

“Why he’s not on the All-Star teams … that’s a shame,” center Mike Fisher said.

Rinne was among the Nashville players who resumed their regular routine Monday with a workout at the team’s practice facility.

The only ones not on hand were defensemen Ryan Suter and Shea Weber and rookie forward Craig Smith, all of whom participated in last weekend’s NHL All-Star festivities. That trio traveled directly to Minnesota where the Predators will face the Wild, 7 p.m., Tuesday (Fox Sports-Tennessee).

The team had not been together since last Tuesday’s victory at Chicago, Nashville’s 12th in its last 14 games.

“I felt really sharp, but I felt winded,” Rinne said. “Right away my legs were burning. … Other than that, I felt great.”

The goalie carries a franchise-record nine-game win streak into Tuesday’s contest. The previous mark was seven, which Rinne accomplished once and Tomas Vokoun twice.

“Collectively, everybody stepped up during this last stretch, but when it comes down to it, Pekks has been a difference-maker,” coach Barry Trotz said. “… I can say, ‘Hey, our goalie was better than their goalie’ almost every night.”

Rinne has not allowed more than two goals in a game and a total of 12 goals during the streak, which began Jan. 7 against Carolina.

“Every night, if he’s not the best player, he’s one of the best out there and he’s a big part of the team for sure,” Fisher said.

Rinne was not chosen to participate in the NHL All-Star Game over the weekend despite the fact that he is second in the NHL with 28 wins and games played by a goalie (45). He also is one of seven netminders with four or more shutouts.

As such, he took the opportunity afforded by the five-day break to get out of town and away from hockey.

“He got a well-deserved break,” Trotz said. “I wish he wouldn’t have gotten the break for the notoriety. I think he’s one of the MVPs of the league. … But selfishly I was hoping that he would get the break because, for us going forward, he’s the guy that needs to be rested the most.”

Briefly

• Forward Jerred Smithson and defenseman Francis Bouillon practiced and were expected to play at Minnesota. Both battled injuries prior to the break.

“It’s going to help,” Trotz said. “The trick is now to come out of the break with good momentum and good purpose.”

• Trotz expressed no concern over the stir caused by Suter with his comments during the All-Star weekend that he was focused on the remainder of the season and had no plans to sign a contract before the league’s trading deadline.

“Sutes is pretty poised,” Trotz said. “As we know, sometimes you say one thing and you mean it a certain way, [but] it’s heard another way. … It’s just that what you her and what you think you hear are two different things. That’s really what happened.

“Like him, we’re just going to go forward, see if we can get in the playoffs and do some big-time damage in the playoffs. … Trust me, it didn’t concern me at all.”