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Goaltender Pekka Rinne wound up in a most unfamiliar spot in two of the most important games of his life.

On the bench having been chased not once http://www.bengalsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-mark-walton-jersey , but twice.

In the Stanley Cup Final.

Now Rinne is back in the postseason once again, and the 6-foot-5 Finn is a big reason why the Nashville Predators won the Presidents’ Trophy with the most points during the regular season. As Rinne prepares for Game 1 on Thursday night against Colorado, he insists last year’s Final provides not so much motivation as experience to use to his advantage along with so many good memories from that thrilling playoff run.

”It’s a different year, obviously different situation, little bit of a different team,” Rinne said. ”But I’m sure you’ll look back at last year’s run, I think there’s a lot of things we can take, a lot of positives all the way through the finals and even after the finals. I think it was an unbelievable experience. I think you try to use that to your advantage.”

Rinne carried last-seeded Nashville all the way to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final by going 12-4 with a .945 save percentage, ranking among the best postseasons by a goalie.

Then came the Final.

In Game 2 against Pittsburgh , Rinne was pulled by coach Peter Laviolette after Nashville gave up three goals in the first 3:18 of the third period of a 4-1 loss. Game 4 was even worse as Rinne gave up three goals on nine shots , lasting only the first period before being replaced by Juuse Saros again. The Predators lost in six games.

Laviolette believes Rinne took the bulk of the blame for those losses when the Predators could have played better in front of their goalie. He also noticed what Rinne did to improve himself.

”Let’s be honest,” Laviolette said. ”He’s been the backbone of this franchise. He was really good down the stretch in order to get us in the playoffs last year Ravens Lamar Jackson Jersey , and when the playoffs came, he was on point. And that was a big part of it. It was more for me just a continuation. I think there’s always changes. I think Pekka does a terrific job of trying to watch, trying to learn, trying to understand the game better, trying to work at his craft.”

Washington coach Barry Trotz has seen how driven Rinne is. He wants to stop every puck – even in practice.

”He’s extremely competitive and extremely proud, that he plays hard on every puck,” Trotz said of his former goalie. ”It doesn’t matter how tired he is. … He plays every puck to exhaustion. And to me that’s allowed him to stay sharp mentally, and I think it’s allowed him to stay sharp physically because he’s 35 and he still is as quick and explosive as he’s ever been.”

Rinne started working early to prepare for this season. He has worked on his stance in and around the net with Predators goaltender coach Ben Vanderklok to tighten his stance. Planting his skates inside the post rather than outside allows Rinne to be faster tracking a puck, able to push off a post to slide quickly to the other post.

Not a big change for a goalie who turned 35 last November.

”It’s hard to do any drastic changes at this point of your career,” Rinne said.

Rinne has rebounded from losing the Final with a season that finally might win him the Vezina Trophy he missed three other times.

The goalie, who won his 300th career game during the season, posted a career-high eight shutouts with the second-best save percentage of his career at .927. He finished third in the NHL with 42 wins and fifth in goals-against average (2.31). Down the stretch Royce Freeman Color Rush Jersey , Rinne was at his best going 23-5-1 with five of those shutouts.

”He was the best goalie of the year,” Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen said.

Rinne also should be rested for the postseason having played only 59 games, two fewer than last season and his fewest in an injury-free season since 2009-10 when playing 58 games. Laviolette stuck to a plan trying to ensure Rinne would be as fresh as possible for the playoffs while developing Saros.

As winners of the Presidents’ Trophy, the Predators will have home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. Smashville is where Rinne went 25-6-2 this season and an impressive 9-2 last postseason, which provides a certain sense of comfort.

”When you think about it, if you take care of all the home games, you win the Stanley Cup so I mean that’s huge,” Rinne said.



AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Pat Graham contributed to this report.



Ozzie Albies turned to teammate Danny Santana in the dugout and told him he was about to end the game with one swing.

”It’s time to go home right now,” Albies said. ”It’s time to go deep. I went up there with one mentality, of hitting a home run.”

Albies hit a tiebreaking homer in the 11th inning off Dylan Floro and the Atlanta Braves snapped the Cincinnati Reds‘ seven-game winning streak with a 5-4 victory on Monday night.

Albies knocked Floro’s first pitch, a changeup, into the right-field seats. Albies doubled twice before hitting Atlanta’s fifth game-ending homer this season. He’s hitting .455 over his last seven games Josh Allen Color Rush Jersey , and his 17 homers are tied for third-most in the NL.

Image
”I’m just trying to hit the ball where it’s pitched,” he said. ”Put a good swing on it.”

Rain delayed the start of the game by 1 hour, 20 minutes, the 10th delay at SunTrust Park this season and the third in the last four games.

The NL East-leading Braves have won eight of 12. They improved to 2-7 in extra innings.

Luke Jackson (1-0), the seventh Atlanta pitcher, faced four batters in the 11th to earn the win. Floro (0-1) was the Reds’ sixth pitcher.

Braves reliever Lucas Sims blew a two-run lead in the sixth, allowing three straight singles, issuing a bases-loaded walk and giving up an RBI groundout to pinch-hitter Adam Duvall that made it 3-all.

Scott Schebler doubled to begin the seventh, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and made it 4-3 on Joey Votto’s RBI groundout. The Braves tied it at 4-all in the seventh on Santana’s RBI double.

Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz, reinstated from the disabled list with right triceps tightness, allowed one run, one hit and four walks in five innings. He struck out four while throwing 91 pitches.

Foltynewicz gave up his first hit to Schebler http://www.billsauthorizedshops.com/authentic-trent-murphy-jersey , whose 10th homer cut the lead to 2-1 in the fifth. Over his last eight starts, Foltynewicz has a 0.96 ERA.

”He had a really fresh arm and just pounded the zone on us and made us work,” Schebler said. ”We made him work as well. We weren’t going down easy. We were grinding out at-bats and made him get out of the game probably a lot quicker than he wanted to.”

Reds starter Tyler Mahle loaded the bases with no out in the fifth before a groundout put the Braves up 3-1. Mahle gave up hits, three runs and four walks with five strikeouts in five innings.

Cincinnati was coming off a four-game home sweep of the Chicago Cubs and had won 10 of 12, but the Reds are still stuck in last place in the NL Central, five games out of fourth place.

”Schebler gave us a chance a couple of times,” interim Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. ”Tough one to lose, but we did a lot of good things again, and if we play like that we’re going to win a lot of ballgames.”

MOVING UP

Markakis, the NL hits leader, singled in the third to reach 100 hits. He leads the league in doubles and multi-hit games and ranks second to Cincinnati’s Scooter Gennett in batting average. Markakis went 2 for 4.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Reds: INF Nick Senzel, the No. 2 overall draft pick of 2016 http://www.49ersauthorizedshops.com/authentic-cassius-marsh-jersey , had season-ending surgery to repair a torn tendon in his right index finger. He suffered the injury on Friday with Triple-A Louisville. In 44 games at Triple-A Louisville, Senzel hit .310 with six homers and 25 RBIs.

Braves: LF Ronald Acuna Jr., sidelined since May 28 with a left knee sprain and bruises to his knee and lower back, will move down in the batting order when he returns from a rehab assignment later this week. He batted in the No. 2 hole in 25 of his 29 games before getting hurt. Manager Brian Snitker likes how Inciarte and Albies are complementing each other in the top two spots.

UP NEXT

Reds: RHP Matt Harvey (2-5, 5.66 ERA) will make his ninth start for Cincinnati since getting traded from the New York Mets on May 8. He is 2-3 with a 4.79 ERA with the Reds and is 3-7 with a 5.27 ERA in 12 career starts and one relief appearance against Atlanta.

Braves: RHP Anibal Sanchez (3-1, 2.55 ERA) will face the Reds for the first time since 2015. He is 2-1 with a 2.22 ERA in four starts this month.



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Fri Aug 10, 2018 3:14 am
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