Nashville Predators: Time for Juuse Saros to Get the Majority of Starts

Pekka Rinne #35 and Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
Pekka Rinne #35 and Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Last night’s gem of a game against San Jose sealed it for me. Juuse Saros should get the majority of the starts for the Nashville Predators.

This is obviously a tough statement to make as Pekka Rinne is the all-time greatest player for the Nashville Predators franchise. There’s no disputing it, but all great things have to gradually come to an end.

To be clear, it’s not the end for Rinne in a Predators uniform just because Saros begins to take more of the starts. It just means the changing of the guard is finally happening. It was inevitable, but we just weren’t sure when the change would actually happen.

Saros has been rock solid for the most part for the past month now. He got off to a rocky start while Rinne was blazing out of the gate, but now things have shifted. Saros’ latest start last night saw him really make some huge saves to help carry the Predators to victory.

Why Saros is deserving of more starts

As I said earlier, this change was going to happen sooner or later. With the season rolling along, the Predators have to let one of these goaltenders start getting in more of a groove. Splitting the starts 50/50 is no longer what I think should happen.

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Saros is the future of the franchise. Unless he just completely collapses the rest of the way out, then there’s no changing my mind on this. He needs the majority of the starts so that he can get into a rhythm for what will hopefully be another playoff appearance for the Predators.

Last night Saros made nine high-danger saves, four medium-danger saves and saved all nine low-danger shots against. His lone goal he gave up was when the Sharks pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker.

Rinne has been the more streaky goaltender since blasting out of the gate early on. He’ll give you a phenomenal performance followed by a dud. The Predators can’t have that trend in net from here on out. There’s too much ground to make up.

One of the reasons the Predators find themselves in the position they’re currently in in the standings is due to inconsistent goaltending. This isn’t all on Rinne as Saros was also inconsistent at times. But over the last month things have shifted in Saros’ favor.

Roles are reversed now

Rinne is still going to gets plenty of starts. Perhaps one out of every four and on the back end of a back-to-back. The Predators have numerous back-to-back situations for the remainder of the regular season.

As for Saros, this is a guy that I feel will get more locked in as he strings together more consecutive starts. Some of his stats are held down right now because he was coming into a tough relief situation for Rinne.

It’s extremely difficult for a goaltender to come into a game in relief against a team that’s already having loads of success. Much like the Colorado Avalanche debacle when Rinne fell apart in the second period, and Saros couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Saros nearly has his save percentage back above 90 after that ugly start. It’s only a matter of time before that percentage gets back up to normal now that he seems to be locked in. His goals against average is also steadily improving and getting closer to three goals per game, which is still pretty bad.

As for the biggest area he need to improve in it’s the high-danger save percentage. He’s all the way down at a .738 in that department, which is much lower than Rinne’s. Even with that, I feel we need to see what Saros can string together with multiple starts.

I’m just ready to see the Predators go all in on Saros as their primary starter. Truth is there’s no reason why the Predators haven’t been more steady in net with the duo of Rinne and Saros. Two excellent goaltenders that you should feel confident in no matter who is starting.

As the goaltending from both guys rounds back into form, the Predators should keep up on this positive trend back in the right direction. I feel Saros should get three out of every four starts from here on out, unless he completely falls apart. I don’t see that happening, and in fact expect him to keep improving.