In the Nashville Predators' final game of the regular season on Monday night, Pekka Rinne stopped each of the Carolina Hurricanes' 30 shots to record the 60th shutout of his career. The difference this time, though, was that it was very likely his last. Not just his last shutout, but probably his last start.
Juuse Saros figures to be the Preds' starter in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so barring an unforeseen meltdown, we likely witnessed the last full game of Rinne in a Nashville uniform. And even though it unfortunately wasn't in front of a full crowd, the fans that were in Bridgestone Arena gave Rinne an incredible send-off.
That's the motherfucking man right there. If you're making a Nashville sports Mt. Rushmore, Rinne is certainly on it, probably second only to Steve McNair. I'd even argue if you were making one for the entire state of Tennessee, he'd have a case to be alongside Peyton Manning and whoever else you'd put on there from UT or Memphis.
He's unquestionably the best player in franchise history and he's just been one of the most consistent players in the NHL for the better part of two decades. Seeing him put on a show in likely his last regular season start and get that kind of reception afterwards is just awesome.
Also, if his career does end at the end of this season, I don't see how he's not in the Hall of Fame conversation. Just look at his numbers against one of his contemporaries who's a surefire lock:
And then the argument everyone goes to between those two is Stanley Cups, despite the fact that one of Fleury's three was stolen from Pekka by some egregious officiating — not to mention the fact that Preds teams was an 8-seed that had lost Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala — and Pekka never played on teams as good as Fleury outside of maybe one or two years. Rinne has put together a Hall of Fame career.
But regardless, it was amazing to watch Pekka put up such a great performance to close out the regular season in front of the only home fans he's played for his entire career. I guess the only thing left to do is go get him a Stanley Cup.