NASHVILLE – Coming off a huge win on the road Friday in Detroit that helped the Predators vault past the Red Wings into fourth place in the Western Conference, it was hard to tell if Nashville coach Barry Trotz was going to go for broke and start goalie Pekka Rinne again Saturday against Central Division rival Chicago.
Trotz said that backup Anders Lindback, who has only played in 14 games, would probably start a game or two in Nashville’s four remaining contests, but he would not say which goalie was going to start Saturday.
All Central Division teams have four games remaining entering Saturday and Nashville leads fifth-place Detroit by one point and the fourth-place Blackhawks by three. It’s possible that Trotz could start Rinne again Saturday and then rest him for one or two of the non-divisional games which don’t have as many playoff implications. One of those teams (Minnesota) is eliminated and another (Colorado) could be by the time Nashville plays the Avs in the season finale.
“We’re going to play sort of game-by-game,” Trotz said of the goalie decisions.
Rinne earned his 42nd win of the season Friday in the 4-1 win against Detroit by making 31 saves, including a sprawling, highlight-reel glove stop on Henrik Zetterberg from point-blank range in the second period. Without revealing anything, Rinne sounded as if he could play if called upon.
Lindback spent plenty of time on the ice during the morning skate; only the players who did not play on Friday participated in it. Rinne also said winning the first end of a back-to-back can be energizing.
“Yeah, for sure I think it’s a help,” he said. “We were talking about that after the game last night. Even though you feel, obviously, sometimes a little tired, but when you win, it gets easier and you feel like you have more energy. That kind of gives a boost for the whole team. Beating Detroit gives confidence to the whole team, so that’s a good thing.”
Rinne was asked if he would rate the win as one of his best performances of the season.
“I don’t know, for sure against a good team like that play a solid game at this point in the season,” he said. “It was a good game. It’s hard for me to rate it. … For sure, good to have a good game like that at the later stage of the season like it is.”
Trotz also said the lineup will not change much from now until the playoffs. Forwards Brandon Yip, Colin Wilson, Craig Smith and Brian McGrattan were all scratches last night, as were defensemen Jack Hillen and Ryan Ellis with Roman Josi returning to the lineup after missing nine games because of injury.
“We’re not going to try to tinker with it too much,” Trotz said.
Here is the Predators' projected lineup:
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Andrei Kostitsyn - David Legwand - Alex Radulov
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Patric Hornqvist
Matt Halischuk - Paul Gaustad - Jordin Tootoo
Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Hal Gill - Roman Josi
Francis Bouillon - Kevin Klein