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Preds Practice Ponderings: November 14

Rinne Earns NHL Third Star of the Week, Gaining Confidence from Teammates

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

There wasn't much surprise in the Nashville Predators locker room on Monday when word spread of goaltender Pekka Rinne receiving NHL Third Star of the Week honors for his play over the past seven days.

Posting a 3-0-0 mark to go along with a .976 save percentage and career shutout No. 41 will usually do the trick. For Rinne, it was just another week at the office, showing that when he's at the top of his game, he's still an elite netminder in the League.

"I've been playing a lot, and I'm obviously getting the results right now, so that feels good, but I think with me it always starts with hard work," Rinne said. "There's going to be ups and downs during the season, but if you want to be one of the top goalies in the League, you have to be consistent. That's my main focus, to try to be consistent, try to bring my best game as often as possible."

After Saturday night's 5-0 win over Anaheim - in which Rinne stopped all 27 shots he faced - Preds Head Coach Peter Laviolette commented on how the rest of the team is able to feed off of Rinne when he's on his game, and the goaltender feels that energy goes hand in hand.

Video: ANA@NSH: Rinne makes 27 saves in spectacular shutout

"It's a team game, and this week there were a few games where Cody Bass got physical and the whole team sparked up and we're playing really well after that; or there's been times we've gotten off to a slow starts this year and maybe it's a big hit, big save, big goal by somebody gets us going," Rinne said. "Especially last week, I felt like that was happening almost every game and we had a really good second half of the games, especially the third periods. We won a lot of games late, which is a good sign."

After a successful 3-0-1 home stand, the Preds head back on the road, beginning in Toronto on Tuesday night. The club is feeling better about themselves than they did a week ago at this time - now they're ready to find success away from the friendly confines of Bridgestone Arena.

"We should feel pretty comfortable and confident going on the road," Rinne said. "The last road trip, it was tough for us. We battled hard at the end and collected some points, but that's the one area we can improve, playing on the road and improving our road record and collecting more points. But I think the whole team is feeling really good right now, and we should feel really confident after this week."

Matthews & Co.

The Predators will get their first look at Auston Matthews on Tuesday night in Toronto, the top pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. One of the more highly touted young players in recent memory, Matthews recorded four goals in his NHL debut last month. And while that's not going to happen every night, it's still worth keeping an eye on No. 34.

"I've heard all the great things, and know he's a great player," Preds Captain Mike Fisher said. "You always look forward to playing against those guys. He's a star already, and we're trying to shut him down and do what we can to be successful against their whole team. They're a young, good, solid team that works hard, and it's going to be a tough opponent."

Maz Returns:

The Predators recalled goaltender Marek Mazanec from AHL Milwaukee on Monday prior to practice, giving them three goaltenders - along with Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros - on the roster. When Mazanec was swapped out for Saros last week, Head Coach Peter Laviolette said the move was simply to get Mazanec some playing time and to prepare him for when the Preds call his number.

"We wanted him to go down and play," Laviolette said after Monday's session. "He'd been sitting for so long, so we wanted him to go down and play and get some ice time. If we do need him, we know now that he has a couple games under his belt where he saw some live action, where he saw some pucks coming his way where he had to stay focused. I think we accomplished what we wanted."

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