NASHVILLE – Despite goalie Pekka Rinne having the benefit of the All-Star break off, Nashville coach Barry Trotz nonetheless gave him a rare night off this past Thursday eventhough the Predators were not in a back-to-back games situation.
Rinne, who has won 11 straight and has 30 wins, ranks second in the League with 47 starts. Trotz said it was an effort to get back-up Anders Lindback, who has played in only 10 games, a start.
Trotz said Lindback is going to start playing more for the Predators.
“I wanted to re-introduce everybody back into the lineup, if you will, and Anders is going to have to play some games here,” Trotz said of both goalies and forwards alike. “I don’t want him sitting too long either.”
Rinne, however, is back in the lineup for Tuesday night's showdown with Vancouver.
Lindback has played so rarely the past two seasons that despite being on the roster for virtually the entire 2010-11 season, he preserved his rookie status entering this one. He also has been sent to the minors at times simply to get in some games.
But that has changed perhaps because Rinne, by winning so much of late – the Preds have won 14 of their past 17 -- has given the Predators the luxury of not having to be desperate to earn every point.
With 68 points and 29 games remaining, Nashville basically only has to average a point per game to reach a threshold that should get the team into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I think it gives you a little bit of breathing room,” Trotz said. “If you’re trying to catch everybody, you need every point, yeah, you don’t have that luxury. From our standpoint, we’re going to need both of them anyways. But when I can get Peks some rest, when I feel I can get him some rest, I try to do that. And we’ve been managing his practice, sort of, and game time, even in terms of drills we select so he’s not getting worn out."
Trotz said that forward Jerred Smithson, one of Nashville’s better faceoff men and penalty killers, would likely get back in the lineup. Smithson, a mainstay in the lineup as a checking line player, has only played in four of the past 12 games, owing both to injury and a logjam of 14 healthy forwards.
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patrick Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Jerred Smithson - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk - Craig Smith - Brandon Yip
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis
Out: Brian McGrattan, Gabriel Bourque, Jack Hillen