Friday, May 16, 2014

Pekka Rinne Swatch Card

Today seems like the perfect day to feature the first of a handful of Pekka Rinne cards I'll showcase throughout the summer, if only because earlier today (or tomorrow depending in which time zone you are!) Team Switzerland took their World Championship game against Team Finland into a 2-2 tie-breaker (which Finland eventually won in a shootout), breaking Rinne's 170-minute shutout streak in the third period - that's right, he went nearly three games without allowing a single goal.

So far in the tournament, Rinne has 2 shutouts, a 1.23 GAA and a .944 save percentage. Not bad for a goalie who only played 26 games this year (two of them with the Milwaukee Admirals) because of a serious injury and whom some experts are saying is ''on the decline''... Personally, I'm of the opinion that you don't take someone off their pedestal just because another one seems like he is on the rise; you wait until the established, stable performers are no longer able to sustain the pace and play themselves out of contention - like Martin Brodeur, who hasn't been the same since at least 2010.

Rinne is a two-time Vezina finalist - considered to have had one of the three best season-long performances twice - and a Second Team All-Star. He finished in the top-5 for goals-against average twice, and his regular-season statistics (2.39 GAA and .918 save percentage) are almost identical to his playoff stats (2.41, .916), so he cannot be considered to cave under pressure or when playing against better opposition (the playoffs feature the 16 best teams, out of 30, of the regular season).

At 6'5'' and 210 pounds, it has made sense so far for him to play a butterfly style, falling to his knees and covering the lower portion of the net with the pads, with a long reach to poke check. He and Henrik Lundqvist (two of the five best goalies in the world, sure) are mostly responsible for the current trend of goaltenders holding their catching glove almost straight up to try to cover the top corner, a style I don't stop the kids I teach (at the pee-wee or bantam levels) from using, but one I don't believe in, in the long run, because it takes the emphasis out of keeping one's reflexes sharp, and is more vulnerable to shots fired in the middle of the net (two to three feet from the ground) while only covering the oft-missed four-foot-high shot (assuming the goalie is in position, if not, he's just covering empty space); it's also less of a natural move - and therefore less efficient - to bring one's arms down quickly than to lift it up. ''Whatever works for you'', though, is what I ultimately say and work around.

Today's card also serves as a bit of a eulogy, as I learned this week that Panini has lost its license to produce NHL cards - Upper Deck has again negotiated a backdoor deal giving them exclusivity - and I will thus lose some of my favourite sets, chief among them Score.

But this card of the Nashville Predators super-stopper is from Panini's 2011-12 Limited (card #12, the Banner Season sub-set, numbered 35/99) and shows him wearing the team's dark blue (then-home, much better than the current yellow one despite the piping) uniform:
It provides a nice view of his usual stance.

No comments:

Post a Comment