The Goalie Guild

Rinne and the Trait of Constant Motion

One thing I absolutely love about Pekka Rinne is how he reflects a trait of constant motion. Even in non-dangerous situations, or when the puck is in a low-threat area, a part of him is almost always moving. This is how he stays engaged mentally, this is how he has always been (since I can remember), and this is how he plays at an extremely high level.

Most goalies these days are taught to be “quiet” in the crease, meaning they are trying to not waste energy by moving too much, and by trying to be as economical as possible. It takes a very special type of goalie to be able to play at such a high level while reflecting constant motion, and there’s no better example of this than Rinne.

It’s almost as if the more energy he expels, the better he is. This is quite a special trait to have, and it’s incredible to see how he channels pressure and converts it into successful goaltending. Combined with his flexibility and athleticism, especially at his size, he’s like pure energy transformed into graceful reflexes and biomechanics.

There are numerous examples of this idea of Rinne in “constant motion”, but maybe the one I notice the most is seen with his hands. His glove makes subtle movements all the time; the wrist slightly rotates, flexes or extends, the palm is pushed out or retracted, or the entire hand is slightly lifted or dropped along the outside of his left pad.

On the other side, Rinne is constantly checking his right post with his blocker hand as well. The shaft of his stick is slamming into the post to check his angles, and his hands together are always making micro-adjustments or minor movements.

It’s actually quite fascinating to watch, especially when you compare it to some of the more quiet goalies like Carey Price or Cam Ward. Just one of many ways in which every goalie is completely unique from the next one.

Within numerous scouting reports I have written on Rinne over the past few years, I always point out how active he is during breaks in action, in between faceoffs, and during TV timeouts. He’s skating out to the circles and back into his crease, he’s adjusting his pads, his hands are moving, his feet are moving, he’s just always moving. It helps him stay focused, it’s how he naturally and instinctually plays the position.

This is what makes Rinne such an exceptional and intriguing goalie to scout. I can’t think of any other NHL goalie that displays such a high level of energy, but in a manner that allows him to be so successful. Jonathan Quick would be one of them, but even he isn’t as animated as Rinne.

This reminds me of one of my favorite dynamics: Optimal Arousal Level. Every goalie has a level of perfection, where they display a certain amount of visible energy that is released in a manner that puts them in the zone, into their most comfortable playing level. If I had to chart each goalie’s OAL, Rinne would be at the very top. His OAL would probably be off the charts, it seems so insanely high.

In Game 3, especially compared to Game 2, Rinne played almost every minute of this game at that perfect Optimal Arousal Level. And even though he wasn’t always mechanically or technically efficient, he played at the level, and in the specific manner, that makes him so successful. Game 3 was all his, and he was a major reason (as was Klein) that the Preds now have a 2-1 lead in the series.

Furthermore, I can’t comment on this topic without saying how instrumental Mitch Korn has been on Rinne’s current success. Korn never removed this over-amplified element from Rinne’s game … and Korn recognized the fact that this is a natural part of what makes Rinne successful, and Korn built around that trait. That is wizardry in terms of goalie coaching, and that is a model other goalie coaches should strive to emulate.

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