Predators : How to Balance Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne Right Now

NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 30: Pekka Rinne #35 and Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators dress prior to warmups against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena on March 30, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - MARCH 30: Pekka Rinne #35 and Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators dress prior to warmups against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena on March 30, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

With the Nashville Predators back on the winning, Juuse Saros is now getting starts from Pekka Rinne. This is new territory we’re crossing into.

With Rinne sitting on a losing streak and losing starts, what are we expecting now from the Nashville Predators goaltending wise moving forward? Does this mean Saros has officially taken over as the primary goaltender for the Predators?

Saros has been on fire with the last few games he’s played, and I’m feeling like if he can continue this hot streak it will be his job for good. He’s given the Predators great opportunities to win in his last handful of starts.

With Saros being 3-5-2 so far on the year you have to look past the win-loss record. He’s seeing the puck very well lately and bringing up a tough decision to make on how to split the starts with Rinne for the remaining 58 games of the regular season.

If you think about it why is Rinne being a healthy scratch? Previously I have talked about Rinne’s age maybe becoming a factor. It’s possible that Rinne is starting to have Father Time catch up to him, as it does every professional athlete eventually. This might be the year that Saros takes over for good.

What happens to Rinne?

Right now since the Predators are getting out of this slump that they have been in the last few weeks , Rinne is going be on the bench for a “backup” role for right now most likely. You have to go with the hot hand in net, and that’s been Saros as of late.

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The Predators are looking to keep their consecutive streak of playoff appearances alive. They’ve made the playoffs for five-straight seasons, and a lot of that consistency can be contributed to steady goaltending from Rinne over the years.

This season the Predators might have to really grind to get a playoff spot. November hasn’t been kind to them and now they have to make up some ground. Shaky goaltending from both Saros and Rinne didn’t help matters during the six-game losing streak. Some of it is due to bad defensive play in front of them and some unlucky bounces.

Now the question is how much do you use Rinne? If Saros is going to get more of the starts, should Rinne take on the role that Saros has had up to this point? We knew this roster decision was going to happen sooner or later.

Should they split 50/50?

I think they should do a 50/50 split just to get more playing time for Saros while also giving Rinne a chance to break out of his own personal slump. That’s only if Saros can keep up his solid play that he’s had in recent games.

Saros is going to be a very well-developed goaltender that could lead the Predators to many more playoff appearances and great seasons in the foreseeable future. We’ve known for a while now that he’s the future of this franchise in net. The Predators have always had the luxury of having steady goaltending.

The downfall for Rinne seemed to start in that overtime loss to the Flames back on Halloween night. The Predators blew a three-goal lead heading into the final period, and the Flames would go onto score four times on Rinne during that span. They’d take the victory in overtime, and Rinne would finish with a .778 save percentage on just 21 saves out of 27 shots faced. 

Rinne has been chased out of three games this season, and Saros has necessarily looked sharp in relief. But it’s difficult for a goaltender to come in relief when a game is already out of hand and the opposition has all the momentum offensively.

When Saros starts, he’s looked much better than Rinne. He’s not giving up too many early goals and putting the team behind the 8-ball early on. This is why Saros is probably getting more starts over Rinne at the moment.

However, Rinne has proven in the past that he can bounce out of funks. This is why the I think the starts should still be split 50/50 unless Rinne still keeps struggling. The biggest dilemma will be if both goaltenders start playing well and who you should get the starts in the playoffs.

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It’s fair to say if both goaltenders start equally playing well that the Predators will start piling up more wins. Inconsistent goaltending has been this team’s biggest problem, or one of them. If they’re both playing well heading into April, who do you go with. We have time to figure that out, but it’s worth keeping a close eye on in the coming months.