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Rinne's New Mask a Winner; Salomaki Still Hitting

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

Goaltenders in the game of hockey have an ability to do something no other athlete can do. Sure, they may be more flexible than most or have reflexes that fall into an elite category, but the personal canvas they don each and every time they step on the ice is an added perk.

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne recently took advantage of that ability by debuting a new mask in a team practice, before the club headed to Anaheim to begin their Round One series with the Ducks. Rinne claimed a win in Game One with the new mask on display, a piece that pays homage to Music City and the goaltender’s personal interests.

“It’s just a little more of a Nashville theme,” Rinne said when describing the artwork. “It has the guitar pick logo on the top and my number on the chin, and on each side, there’s a Preds logo.

One side is a little bit Nashville skyline, like the ‘Batman Building,’ and few of the charity things that I’m involved in - 365 Fund is one and then the Best Buddies on the other side. It’s kind of mixed in so you can’t really see it too clearly, but it has a personal meaning. It’s a nice thing for goalies, we can express ourselves a little bit.”

Rinne has his masks designed by David Gunnarsson, a Swedish artist who paints a number of masks for NHL goaltenders. The goaltender is involved throughout the process, but Rinne says he leaves it to the professional when it comes time to paint.

“If I have some ideas I let him know, but he does all the sketching and stuff like that; he has a little better skill than I do,” Rinne said with a smile. “But he’s a really creative guy. He paints a lot of NHL goalies’ masks, and he does a great job.”

The influence of the Predators and Nashville is clear on the new bucket, but Rinne always makes sure to add a couple of extra monikers on the back for a personal touch.

“I always have a few of my own things really close to me [on the back of the mask],” Rinne said. “I’ll have a Finnish flag on the back and a little memory for my grandpa, so it’s nice to you can always have your own things on your mask.”

Salomaki Stays Salty:

Miikka Salomaki skated in his first career Stanley Cup Playoff game on Friday night, but his mindset didn’t change: just hit everything that moves.

Salomaki recorded three checks in Nashville’s 3-2 victory over Anaheim in Game One of their Round One series, tied for second on the team in the category, including a large hit on Anaheim’s Corey Perry in the third period. The 23-year-old Finnish forward earned his spot on the Predators roster this season by providing a physical presence, and that ability is often amplified at this time of the year.

“It was fun, I enjoyed it,” Salomaki said of his postseason debut. “Playoffs are always a little different, but you just need to play the same way. It’s the same sport still, and it’s always fun to play in the playoffs. I just try to enjoy it, and play the way I always do.”

Head Coach Peter Laviolette was complimentary of not only Salomaki, but the entire fourth line in Game One, including Paul Gaustad and Cody Bass.

“I thought our lines did their jobs and played hard,” Laviolette said. “That’s a skating, physical line for us. I thought they played good defense and provided some physicality.”

“It was a good hockey game, and we played well and we defended well all night,” Salomaki said. “When we had a chance to go on offense, we did that and had a good effort.”

Salomaki and his teammates know that Game One was only the beginning of what promises to be a hotly contested series, and the winger and his teammates have already taken the positives from Friday night and shifted their focus to Sunday evening.

“We played well yesterday, but it's history now,” Salomaki said. “It’s not going to help us tomorrow at all. It’s a different game, and we just need to play at least at the same level as yesterday. it’s not going to be easy, but I think if we just play like we played yesterday, or even a little better, we can beat them again.”

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