Rinne lobbies against increasing size of NHL nets and it’s not just about a goalie complaint
Nashville tender is concerned about wrecking the record books with a different standard
NASHVILLE — With all the conjecture surrounding goaltenders’ equipment going on at the NHL general managers’ meetings, Pekka Rinne just asks one thing, pretty-please:
Don’t mess with the nets.
“I don’t want to see them changing net sizes,” declared the Nashville Predators ace stopper (who, yes, actually, TALKS the morning of a start). “That’s gonna destroy all the records and all the history of the game. It’s never gonna be the same game.
“I don’t care about the goalie gear. Obviously, they done that (change) before. They pay a lot of attention to that. Every year what I wear goes through the NHL.
“They already know the goalies are getting too good.
“That’s the problem. It’s not the gear. Absolutely.”
An increase in net size from the perennial four-foot by six-foot size would certainly muddle the way great statistical marks from then on would be viewed and necessitate confusing asterisks in all the record books.
“That’s how you compare great players,” argued Rinne, and quite rightly. “I think in hockey, there’s some things that should never change. And the nets, that’s one of them.
“Soccer and hockey, they’re different games.”
Suddenly there’s an unexpected wild card in the Western Conference pack.
Yes, those can-you-believe-it?/who’d-a-thunk-it? Columbus Blue Jackets. A virtual consensus pick for 15th, and last, in the West this season.
Don’t look now but the Jackets just happen to be basking in an 11-game point streak heading into Friday’s game against the Flames and a first trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs after three years in the wilderness — sound familiar, Calgary partisans? — is there for the taking.
“This is awesome,” Jackets’ left winger Vinnie Prospal told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “What drives an individual is to prove people wrong. This is something that is awesome right now.
“You see us every day in practice. You see us after games. You see how different it is compared to last year. For us as an organization, we’re finally learning how to win, how to play meaningful games down the stretch in the second half of a season.
“With all due respect to some of the players who were here prior, that wasn’t always the case. Nobody has a crystal ball; nobody knows what lies ahead. And it took us some time this season, maybe a little too long for our coaching staff’s patience. But look at where we are right now.”
That ol’ slogan maker Barry Trotz has come up with a catchy tag-line for his the challenge that lies ahead from now until the end of the regular season.
“Embrace the Race.
“We’re not in the position we want to be in right now,” the Preds’ boss explained Thursday morning, prior to puck-drop against the Flames, “but we’re in the race. So let’s Embrace the Race.
“The last couple years we’ve been in a good position going down the backstretch. This is more like the years we were trying to make the playoffs and it went down to Game 81 and we’d get in.
“Those were fun times, too. They were different. Hard, but fun. At the end of the rainbow there was an excitement because you achieved something because you stayed with it, battled through it. The accomplishment came in fighting through the adversity.
“You’ve just got to get in.
“Our expectations have been high here since we started making the playoffs on a regular basis. This year’s been a bigger struggle with injuries. That puts some internal pressure on but if you really look at it, you can’t control injuries
“What you can control is your attitude, your spirit.”
The Preds faced the equally-desperate Calgary Flames after a dispiriting 1-4 road trip that has left them two games below .500 and four points out of a playoff spot. Bob Hartley’s men, meanwhile, hadn’t won a road game since Feb. 17th.
“To me it’s all about carrying your own spirit,” said Trotz. “As a team, as an organization, we’re going to try and carry the Predators’ spirit forward. That’s what you do.
“If you’re going to sit and mope about what happened on the road trip, we’re not going to win tonight. That’s plain and simple. You’re one moment away from positive. That moment might be a play early in the game, late in the game, middle of the game.
“That’s where we’re at.
“You’ve gotta live in the moment. Right now the moment is the Calgary Flames tonight.”
After serving a one-game club-imposed ban for abject laziness, maddeningly enigmatic left winger Sergei Kostitsyn returned to the Nashville lineup Thursday.
Kostitsyn lollygagged a change last Sunday in Edmonton that led to a 2-on-1 short-handed goal that propelled the Oilers in front. For his lack of hustle, a peeved Trotz banished him to the press box for Nashville’s trip-ending loss at Columbus.
Thursday, Kostitsyn got out of solitary.
“I gotta put Sergei back in,” explained Trotz. “The punishment and the crime ... we need to get him back in. He’s a very intelligent player, he can help us in a lot of different areas — power play, penalty kill, 5-on-5. He’s served his time, if you will.”
Kostitsyn has 11 points in 28 games this year.
Follow George Johnson on Twitter/GeorgejohnsonCH
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