Thu 15/01/2015 - 21:08 EST

Predators Now Bad NHL Bet With Pekka Rinne Injury

Horrible news for the Nashville Predators, one of the surprise teams in the NHL this season, as the team’s best  player by far, goalie Pekka Rinne, will miss at least three and possible five weeks with a sprained left knee suffered in Tuesday’s 5-1 win over Vancouver. Rinne left the game with 17:05 remaining in the third period after crashing into the wall behind the net with Vancouver’s Christopher Higgins and Predators defenseman Anton Volchenkov.

Put simply: Bet against Nashville until Rinne returns because he might be the most valuable player to his team in the league. The Predators enter play on Thursday with 62 points and atop the Central Division, four points ahead of the Stanley Cup favored Chicago Blackhawks and tied with Anaheim for the most points in the NHL. Rinne is first in the league with 29 wins and second in goals-against average (1.96) and save percentage (.931). He was the Vezina Trophy favorite, hands down, and a candidate for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. Rinne has been a Vezina finalist twice but not won it.

Rinne, an All-Star selection (he obviously will now miss next Sunday’s game), missed 51 games last because of a bacterial infection in his surgically repaired hip. The Predators were a vastly different team without him, totaling just 88 points and missing the playoffs. That lead the team to fire Coach Barry Trotz and replace him with Peter Laviolette, an early favorite for Coach of the Year.

“Well, he’s not dead,” Laviolette said. “He’s coming back, so we’re going to see him at some point. I don’t think anything changes the start of his year. I don’t think anything will change once he comes back either. It’s a setback, but we’ll get over it as a team. He’ll get over it as a person, and he’ll jump back in there.”

Rinne is expected to miss a minimum of 10 games and possibly up to 18 if he’s out a full five weeks. Backup goalie Carter Hutton is just is 0-3-2 in his starts this season with a 2.60 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. He is likely to start Friday against Washington, Hutton’s first start since Jan. 4. Hutton was 20-11-4 record in 40 games last season, which was his first full season in the NHL. Nashville recalled goaltender Marek Mazanec from the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League on Thursday. Mazanec appeared in 25 games for Nashville last season, with an 8-10-4 record with a 2.80 GAA and .902 save percentage.

Nashville brings a four-game winning streak into Friday’s game with Washington, which is now coached by Trotz. Then the Preds have two very tough games — now likely losses — at Detroit on Tuesday and at Montreal on Tuesday — before the All-Star Break.

The Predators are currently -175 second favorites to win the Central Division, but that’s unlikely to happen if Rinne misses the full five weeks. Chicago is the -110 favorite and likely winner, but don’t rule out St. Louis (+200), either. The Vezina race is now wide open too.

Category : Sports Betting News

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