How unusual to think that it was back on Oct. 9, the night the Nashville Predators opened the 2010-11 season against the Anaheim Ducks, that goalie Pekka Rinne pulled himself from the contest with a knee injury.

Six months later, it's clear that Rinne is not going anywhere. His consistent presence and performance between the pipes is considered by most a necessity if the Predators hope to get beyond the Western Conference quarterfinals for the first time.

There's no doubt he will be the starter when Nashville and Anaheim begin their best-of-seven series 9:30 p.m. (CDT) Wednesday at the Honda Center (SportSouth-Comcast Chs. 26, 286).

That's in stark contrast to the Ducks, who have three options in net — two of which are less than 100 percent. All indications are that Anaheim will open with former Predator Dan Ellis in net because Jonas Hiller, who started the season-opener, remains sidelined by vertigo, and Ray Emery is less than 100 percent because of a lower body injury.

"They've had some goaltending changes," Nashville coach Barry Trotz said. "Emery's been injured and Hiller's been backing up, but Hiller's still going through a little bit of the vertigo so I think Dan Ellis is going to be the guy who starts the series for sure. … [Ellis] has gone in there and played very well."

Ellis was named the NHL's third star for the final week of the regular season after he stopped 66 of 68 shots in back-to-back victories over Los Angeles last Friday and Saturday, the second of which moved the Ducks past the Predators into fourth place in the conference standings and gave them home-ice advantage for the series.

There is plenty of precedent to suggest that a team does not have to rely on one goalie to win a Stanley Cup. The Ducks, in fact, did so in 2007 with contributions from Jean-Sebastien Gigeure (13 wins) and Ilya Bryzgalov (three wins).