NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When news broke a few weeks ago that Pekka Rinne hadn’t skated since undergoing hip surgery on May 9, concern among the Preds faithful spread quickly. And given the fact that Nashville’s two potential backup goalies — Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg — have just one combined NHL game under their belts, this concern was undoubtedly warranted.

However, Rinne told me on Saturday he is positive he will be 100 percent healthy when the Predators open their regular season schedule, claiming his timetable for recovery isn’t as long as many have speculated.

“It’s hard to put a number on my health, but I feel really close to normal,” he said. “There’s still a ways to go, but the main thing is that (my hip) is reacting the right way, it’s not getting too sore out there skating.

“I’m not quite there yet, but I’m positive I’ll be 100 percent on opening night.”

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While Rinne may be ready to go on Oct. 3 when the 2013-14 campaign kicks off in St. Louis, there’s a good chance it will take some time before he feels fully comfortable between the pipes. He understands this, and is prepared to endure any potential adversity in the early going.

“I’m not going to look back and worry about not being able to skate in July or August, I knew the reality of it when I had the surgery,” he said. “It was a different kind of summer, that’s for sure. I have to make the most of the little time I have, and all I can do is take it one day at a time.”

Rinne did exhibit some rust at training camp this weekend, but looked extremely sharp considering the circumstances. His lateral movement — which relies heavily on the hips — appeared to be strong, which is as good of a sign as any he is healing well. He was also tracking the puck well, and made a few stand-out saves during Sunday’s scrimmage.

Coach Trotz was very pleased — and perhaps a tad relieved — to see Rinne skating so well at camp, and believes the star goalie is progressing nicely.

“Peks looks really good,” Trotz said. “I keep looking up to see if he is dragging, or won’t be in the net, or sore — but I don’t see any of that, which is really encouraging. I think he’s chomping at the bit to get in some games.”

Trotz emphasized the fact that the team never wants to rush injured players back into action, and stated that if Rinne needs more time to mend than expected, he won’t be thrown into the fire. The Nashville bench boss had previously told the media that the Finnish netminder will be held out of action for the team’s first two preseason tilts, and that remains the plan.

“Our training staff and organization are going to be very diligent on giving him ample and full time to feel 100 percent so he can not have something nag him all year” said Trotz. “Right now we have no issues, and that’s a good feeling.”

Photo credit: Don McPeak-US PRESSWIRE

About The Author

Andrew Hirsh is a graduate of Elon University and is entering his fourth year as a credentialed NHL writer. He founded SunbeltHockey.com in 2012 and serves as the site's managing editor. Andrew can be reached via email at ahirsh3@gmail.com.