Pekka Rinne has always been one of the NHL's elite netminders, and has been a key cog in the Nashville Predators' machine. Unfortunately, the machine has hit a snag, and the key cog hasn't gotten the defensive support that he usually receives.
Rinne is an absolute workhorse, and if you're the backup in Nashville, you should expect to hang out on the pine a little bit. Unless he's injured, Rinne will get a clear majority of the starts; last season, he started a whopping 73 games and the season before that he started 64. This year, so far, he has started 38 games and played in 39… and keep in mind that the season only runs 48 games this year.
This means that his recently returned compatriot Chris Mason has started just three games and played in only eight. Will Mason get a chance to start down the stretch with his team out of playoff contention?
Barry Trotz has told Josh Cooper of the Tennessean that Rinne will start every remaining game barring injury or other unforeseeable circumstances. It's no surprise — Rinne is more than capable of it — but at this point of the season, why make a point of it? The team obviously hasn't been supporting Rinne, there's nearly no mathematical chance that the Preds make the playoffs, and there does stand a small chance that the team's best goalie could get hurt.
Of course, that last part is all a matter of chance, really, but why not let Mason get a start? You're paying him, it doesn't make a bit of difference, and I think it's been absolutely proven that it's impossible for Rinne to get out of game shape.