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Predators’ Rinne out four weeks with hip infection; can inexperienced backups handle the load?

If Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz had a neck, Pekka Rinne's left hip would be a real pain in it.

During the offseason, Rinne underwent surgery to repair the hip, and while he was able to rehab his way into the lineup just in time for opening night, he didn't appear to be 100 per cent. Now he definitely isn't. On Thursday, the Predators announced that Rinne was dealing with an infection in the same spot, and was going back in for another arthroscopic surgery. He'll miss up to four weeks. From the NHL:

Predators general manager David Poile said Rinne had been diagnosed with a spontaneous bacterial infection in his hip, the same one he had arthroscopic surgery on in May.

Poile said Rinne complained of a fever after the team's game Tuesday at the Minnesota Wild, which led to the discovery of the bacterial infection, which Poile said was directly related to the surgery.

Rinne is 4-4-1 with 2.31 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in nine games. He's 1-1-1 in his past three games, but has allowed one goal in each.

Considering how crucial Rinne is to the Predators' success, this is a pretty serious loss. But it's even more concerning when you peruse the depth chart behind him, where, barring some kind of player acquisition, Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg will complete for the starting job in his absence. These two have a combined three NHL games between them.

And Hutton, who will play Thursday night versus the Winnipeg Jets, has all three. Behind Hutton, 22-year-old Hellberg's pro experience in North America is limited to 42 AHL games.

Experience may be an issue, is what I'm trying to say.

Before the Predators make a panic move, however, Trotz has said that he'll let the two goalies battle it out, and he'll be deciding his starting netminder on a game-by-game basis.

But guys... if that doesn't work, I think we all know there's a huMANgous big answer waiting for Nashville's call from Las Vegas. Go get him, Poile. Do it. You know you want to.

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