It comes as no surprise that goaltender Pekka Rinne
and defensemen Shea Weber
and Ryan Suter
made the ballot for the 2012 NHL All Star game. They serve as the backbone of the Nashville Predators and are among the best in the world at their positions. The only question is if all three will make it to Ottawa for the game. Weber's been a mainstay at the mid-season classic, playing in both the 2009 and 2011 games (there was no All-Star Game in 2010 due to the Winter Olympics --- but Weber did participate in the Olympic tournament). Rinne appeared in the 2009 NHL YoungStars Game during All-Star Weekend. Suter, standout at the 2010 Winter Olympics for Team USA, is looking for his first All-Star appearance.
Here’s a look at what the three players have accomplished in 2011-12.Respect abounds:
Listen to opposing coaches and players as they prepare to face Nashville, and Rinne’s name comes up first. Rinne became a household name in the hockey world in the playoffs last season and he hasn’t missed a step in 2011-12. He currently leads the NHL in starts (14), has faced more shots (429) than any goaltender in the league, and is tied for the lead in shutouts with three. Rinne is tied for second in wins (eight) and leads the league in saves (408), well ahead of Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen (381), who is second. In the middle of all of this, Rinne signed a seven-year, $49M contract with Nashville, and there have been no distractions.Captain sets the pace:
Weber is in his second year as captain and has settled nicely into the role. His combination of strength, smarts and talent makes him one of the game’s best defenseman. Weber has only one goal this season, but he has seven assists and leads the team with a +10 rating. That mark is tied for second among all NHL defensemen. He is also tied for first on the team in shots on goal (45) with Craig Smith
. Smooth operator:
Suter’s style of play is easily overlooked by casual hockey observers, but those who are in the know appreciate his uncanny ability to be in the correct spots on the ice. His defensive play is unquestioned, but Suter is showing more on offense during the early part of 2011-12. He has three goals this season, the most of any Nashville defensemen, and is tied for fifth on the team in points (eight). His +7 rating is second only to Weber.