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Pekka Rinne, in AHL for conditioning, expected to play Friday

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Rinne will return to game action this weekend. (Getty Images)
Pekka Rinne will return to game action this weekend. (Getty Images)

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Pekka Rinne is getting closer and closer to returning to the Nashville Predators.

On Wednesday the team sent Rinne to AHL Milwaukee to begin a conditioning stint. He has been out of the lineup since he came down with a bacterial infection back on Oct. 23 and it had many wondering if Rinne would be back at all this season.

While there is no definitive timeline that Rinne as to when he'll play for the Predators again, it doesn't sound that far away. Not only is Rinne being sent down to begin his conditioning but he's going to hit the ice right away. He is going to play on Friday night for the Admirals.

Clearly this is a big development in his aim to return to the ice this season for the Predators.

They could certainly use a fully healthy Rinne as soon as possible as well. The Predators are last in the Central Division but even without Rinne they have remained within sight of a playoff spot in the West as they're just four points behind Dallas and Phoenix for the final berth.

Rinne played just nine games before the infection -- which he confirmed on Wednesday was E Coli -- and posted a .917 save percentage with a 2.31 GAA. Carter Hutton, who has started the most games without Rinne in Nashville, has a .904/2.87 line. So yes, Rinne nearing a return is kind of a big deal in Music City.

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