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InGoal Update: Rinne dazzling in goalie battle with Luongo

InGoal Update: Rinne dazzling in goalie battle with Luongo

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne

Pekka Rinne is opening eyes with his performance in the second round of the playoffs. (InGoal file photo)

The most impressive part of Pekka Rinne’s overtime magic against Roberto Luongo on Saturday night may not have been the sheer spectacular nature of his numerous highlight-reel saves (video below), but the fact he was able to make them after sleep walking through regulation.

Rinne’s toughest task was staying awake while the Predators outshot Vancouver 36-15 before overtime. The hardest he worked was skating quickly to the bench for an extra attacker just as Nashville tied the game at 1 on a bank shot from below the goal line that went in off the back skate of Luongo.

Once overtime started, however, Rinne had to throw the switch from bystander to standing on his head, making big save after big save before teammate Matt Halischuk finally ended it with 5:09 left in double overtime.

As most goalies will tell you, it’s not an easy ask to heat up after being so cold for so long.

Rinne says he just didn’t have any other options.

“You have no choice,” Rinne told InGoal Magazine after the game, several half-empty bottles of water and Gatorade mixtures sitting beside his stall. “It’s sudden death and you try to be ready for every single situation, every single shot and go from there. It was easy to stay focused, especially in overtime, it seemed like they were shooting more and it’s always fun when that happens.”

Rinne made were several “fun” head-turners in overtime, but none was better than his headfirst Superman dive across the crease to rob pinching defenseman Kevin Bieksa of an open net after a pretty cross-ice feed from Daniel Sedin late in the first overtime:

Rinne himself admitted he “was a little bit fortunate,” as Bieksa shot it back into him rather than the open side of the net. But as Cam Ward told InGoal after several of his equally remarkable, out-of-nowhere stops en route to the 2006 Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophies, when a goalie is in a desperation, open-net save situation the first place they should try to get back to is the middle because few shooters have the guts to try and pick a corner when they think they’ve got an open look. They’re usually too scared to miss the net.

Still you can’t take anything away from Rinne’s performance, which also included this rebound stop on Henrik Sedin wide open at the top of the crease just five minutes into the first overtime:

A believer in equality, Rinne also channeled his inner Dominik Hasek to rob twin brother Daniel Sedin:

If you’re starting to notice some similarities in the style – ie. there is no pure butterfly, blocking basics in any of it – you are not alone. What separates Rinne is his incredible athleticism for a guy who stands 6-foot-5, something that Nashville goaltending guru Mitch Korn, who perhaps not coincidentally also worked with Hasek in Buffalo, has been careful not to coach out of him.

Look for an in-depth feature on the roots of Rinne’s raw talents, in particular a glove hand that is the most active in the NHL and saves his defensemen countless rebounds, in this week’s InGoal Magazine newsletter.

Luongo the Great, or Luongo the Goat?

Luongo Drinking

Roberto Luongo went from great to goat in game 2 against Nashville. (InGoal file photo)

Roberto Luongo was in the other boat in Game 1, fighting to stay awake and in the game while only facing 11 shots the first two periods before needing to come up with several sharp, though less spectacular saves, in the final frame to secure the Canucks’ 1-0 win. It looked like he was headed for a similarly scored victory in Game 2, but the tone was entirely different, with Luongo needing several great stops while his team was outshot 36-15.

He made most of them, including a partial pad stack on Jordin Tootoo’s breakaway with just under nine minutes left, and a right pad robbery when Canadian Olympic teammate Shea Weber – you know, the guy who ripped a puck right through the mesh at the 2010 Games – was allowed to tee one up and skate into it from the top of the circles.

But as always seems to be the case for Luongo, a late one went in to tie it, and in the eyes of most it had a particular odour to it, as Ryan Suter’s shot from behind the net clipped his stick, went through his legs, and bounced in off his back left skate. A bad break, or a bad goal? Many were asking the question, so we posed it by email to a handful of NHL goalies and goalie coaches and the results were split, though most agreed it just can’t go in at that time, pointing to either a sloppy stick that wasn’t firmly on the ice, or a back pad that should have been close to the goal line.

For the defense, it did go off the stick of defenseman Dan Hamhuis. So you tell us, bad break or bad goal:

Either way Luongo shouldn’t be blame for his team’s no-show, or inept attempt to milk a 1-0 lead from early in the second period. But being Luongo in a Canadian market means taking the heat, fully deserved or not

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.


  1. Jesse

    Concerning Luongo, I think those kinds of goals can happen any time and to anyone. It is true though that you should still be able to avoid them at times like these. (Mainly I’m just happy Preds got the equalizer, no matter how it came about.) But where I’m pointing the finger at Luongo is the winning goal. He dropped down way too early on the pass, which was completely unmerited in my opinion as the play wasn’t close enough to the net at that point, and after that he shuffled sideways on his knees (no one big push) ending up out of position and committed resulting in giving up the winning goal.

  2. paul szabo

    I agree with Jesse 100%. While it is true that every single mistake of Luongo’s will be put under the microscope, this is the third time this series that a decisive goal comes when he is down and deep and in a less than optimal position. Not sure what made him use this save selection. It seems it would have been more efficient to stay on his feet, T-push to follow the puck laterally and wait for the shot. Then again, we are all armchair quarter backs and he is in the NHL…

  3. Matt in Montreal

    No doubt Luongo’s often caught playing on his heels.

    Love the cliches.