With a shortened season, many teams around the National Hockey League are wondering what to do with their goaltending situations. For the Nashville Predators, they will have to deal with handling starting goalie Pekka Rinne and backup goaltender Chris Mason.
Nashville Predators goaltending coach Mitch Korn believes Chris Mason will need to be ready to play in any situation.
Last season, Pekka Rinne started in 72 games, which is 24 games more than what the schedule permits this season. However, he will most likely not play all 48 games, especially with all the back-to-back games.
One problem the Nashville Predators and Pekka Rinne might face early in the season is the adjustment from the Olympic-sized rink in the KHL to the smaller rink in North America. However, Mitch Korn doesn't believe it will be a problem with only a week to adjust back.
"We will start to do drills and get used to the smaller rink. We will work on Rinne redeveloping the muscle memory to adjust back to the smaller rink in North America," said goalie coach Mitch Korn.
Of course, NHL rules didn't permit coaches to contact their players during the lockout, which could've been helpful to Rinne. If Rinne struggles early, luckily the Predators have a capable backup in Chris Mason.
"Chris Mason will be ready to play when called upon. Mason will be ready to play whenever, wherever. He is a great pro and a great leader in locker room," said Korn, who has worked with Mason when he was a Predator in the seasons from 1998 – 2008.
After watching prospect Magnus Hellberg in his goalie session during development camp in the past summer, he seemed to be having conditioning problems.
"Magnus has been working on conditioning. I'm not thrilled with [his conditioning]. He needs to improve his 'fatigueness'. But, it has improved since training camp with Milwaukeee Admirals," said Korn.
Hellberg has had a less than great season in the AHL, so far. The 38th overall pick in the 2011 Entry Draft has a 4-5-0 record, 3.27 GAA and .898 save percentage in eleven games played.
It wouldn't be a Predators goaltender preview without mentioning Zoltan Hetenyi, who will join the NHL club during training camp on a Professional Tryout contract. Hetenyi had struggles entering the season with the ECHL's Cincinnatti Cyclones. Korn said, "[Hetenyi] needed to adapt to life in North America. The hockey is different and life skills are different. It is a culture shock when coming from Hungary to the United States. As his life style improves in North America, so will his play."
Hetenyi is from Budapest, Hungary and played with Jokerit in the capital city of Finland–Helsinki–in the SM-Liiga, prior to playing in North America. The Hungarian goalie has played in eleven games for the Cyclones with a 4-4-1 record, 2.33 GAA and .913 save percentage.
Goaltending fanatics should check with FangFaction.com often for their "How to Beat the Goalie" posts.