On Monday, the National Hockey League announced Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg and goaltender Pekka Rinne as recipients of the League’s monthly accolades. Forsberg was named Rookie of the Month and Rinne claimed Third Star honors for the month of November.
Nashville’s 20-year-old winger recorded 15 points (9g-6a) and a shootout-winning marker in the approximately four-week span. Rinne’s record was 10-1-0 in November, along with a perfect slate in two shootouts (stopping all 10 shooters faced) and a shutout.
“I have to talk about Forsberg again?” Preds center Mike Ribeiro joked. “He’s been great all around and scoring at the right time too. This month he had the shootout winning goal, the overtime goal and several others. I think he’s just getting better and better. Even with teams closing in on him more, because they know how good he is now, he’s still working hard and getting through checks.”
Forsberg was humble when talking about his past month of play, a span that saw the first-year forward score a goal in six-straight games from Nov. 2 to Nov. 13. The Swede is tops in the NHL with a plus-20 rating and leads all rookies in goals (10), assists (13-tied), points (23), power-play points (6-tied), game-winning goals (3) and shots on goal (70) in 23 appearances this season.
“There are a lot of good rookies, so I guess that makes it even more special,” Forsberg said. “It’s been a fun month and it’s a nice [recognition]...I’m trying to enjoy things as much as I can, especially with the ups and down of last season. Every guy’s dream is to play in the NHL and I’m doing that right now, and having success, so it’s been great.”
The Preds begin December in first place in the Western Conference for a lot of reasons, but one evident cause has been the resurgence of Rinne between the pipes. The former All-Star missed 51 games during the 2013-14 season, but is back and in a big way so far this campaign.
“We’re very confident with what Peks brings to the net each night,” blueliner Ryan Ellis said. “With Rinne in net, it allows us to be more aggressive on defense and helps us take chances on offense. We do our best to block shots and whatnot but if we over-challenge and they seem to get a play out of it, we always still have him to stop it.”
“He works his hardest all the time; in practice he doesn’t let goals in either,” Ribeiro said of Rinne. “He’s a guy that you can rely on night after night and he’ll make the big saves. We’ve been playing well in front of him too, but he’s kept us in several games with a big save at the right time...Like against Edmonton, I don’t see that as a lucky win because it was our goalie that gave us the victory. When you have that kind of advantage it’s a huge lift.”
Rinne’s 16 wins rank first in the NHL, while his goals-against average (1.82) and save percentage (.933) both place second in the League in their respective categories.
“Team play is always the key,” Rinne said. “Obviously a goalie can steal some points here and there, but the bottom line is you need your team. The guys have been playing so well. I’m happy with my own game and the way I’m playing. I feel like I’ve been consistently playing good hockey, but at the same time, you need your team to be at their best..it goes hand in hand. I think that’s what we are getting right now.”
“Having him back there is unbelievable,” Ellis said. “When he’s at his best and playing 100 percent we always have a shot. [We’ve been] in a lot of one-goal games and we have confidence in [them] thanks to him.”
For a look a Rinne and Forsberg’s top highlights during November, click here.