A Saturday matinee features the Nashville Predators against the Edmonton Oilers, who have yet to score a goal versus Juuse Saros.
It is one of the most surprising stats you will see in the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers boast one of the best scorers in the league, leading the league in points each of the last two seasons, reaching the century mark in both. However, zero of those points have come against Nashville Predators’ goalie Juuse Saros. Think about that for a moment. The leagues best scorer has not tallied a point against a “backup” goalie.
Granted, it is only two games. One-hundred and twenty minutes total. The Oilers peppered Saros with 77 shots in those two games, and he stopped every single one. This includes the 31-save performance back on October 20 of this season. To say Saros has Edmonton’s number is an understatement.
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Anything can happen, and a streak like this is going to come to an end. Possibly today. What is starting to become clear is Saros has the ability to be a top NHL goalie. With 5 wins already, Saros is tied for the lead in the NHL. His .932 save percentage at 5v5 is 10th in the league among goalies with 200 more or minutes on the ice.
With Pekka Rinne on injured reserve, Saros is getting chances to show what he can do. So far, he is helped carry the Nashville Predators to an 8-2-0 start. Last time out, Saros made impressive save after save in order to keep the Predators close. The defense allowed several breakaways and the young netminder stood tall.
Other side of the story
Outside of the goaltending, there are two main stories with the Nashville Predators. Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Viktor Arvidsson continue to score a majority of the Predators points. Forsberg and Arvidsson both have 7 goals, and all three have reached double-digits in points. While 15 players have a goal and 19 have a point, the team is driven by the JoFA line. They have nearly 70% of the team’s high-danger chances. Can the rest of the team step up?
Then, there are the special teams, a title only used for the situation as they certainly are nothing special about them. The Predators’ power play is fifth worst in the league, gaining only 4 goals so far. And, the penalty kill is as successful as the cologne Brian Fantana uses in Anchorman. The penalty kill for the Predators should also be illegal in nine countries. Their 72% success rate is rather pungent.
There is no better time to get on track than today. Edmonton only allows 7.3 minutes in penalties per game but have allowed 5 power-play goals to their opponents. Cam Talbot is performing rather well on the season, but his .738 high-danger save percentage is not great. If the Nashville Predators play their game, using aggressive defense to create offense, they will have plenty of chances to score.
The Central Division is highly contested. Nashville still leads, but Colorado and Winnipeg are making strong cases for contention already. After a heart-breaking loss to the Sharks, the Predators made a great comeback to win in New Jersey. Another win today and the Predators will close in on one of their best starts in team history.