Nashville Predators: Juuse Saros Should Be Undisputed Game 1 Starter

Goaltender Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Goaltender Juuse Saros #74 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

This shouldn’t even really be a discussion anymore, but the Nashville Predators once again will be choosing between two starting goaltenders.

Sooner or later the Nashville Predators will have to move forward with Juuse Saros, or someone else, as the top starter in net.

Life after Pekka Rinne is quickly approaching, and it’s Saros’ time to take the reins and try to continue a great history of goaltending for the Predators franchise.

But some recent remarks from Predators GM David Poile to the Midday 180 radio show raised some eyebrows as it appears there will be a training camp battle to choose the starter for the play-in series with the Arizona Coyotes.

A switch would make zero sense

This is going to be fascinating to watch and see play out. Saros put the team on his back to get them to the final wildcard spot after winning eight of his last 11 starts.

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It’s hard for me to understand what Saros could do wrong, or what Rinne could do right, in a brief training camp period to argue making a major switch between the two.

Saros also impressively recorded back-to-back shutouts over a very good Dallas Stars team that really put the Predators over the hump and into playoff position in a crowded wildcard race.

There’s always the chance that Saros, or any player, can come out completely flat. This is something we’ve never really seen before. Asking players to come out of a four or five-month stoppage to play directly in playoff mode.

The only way you make that change is if Saros comes out completely disastrous in Game 1, but there’s potential for that with any goaltender no matter how elite they are.

The 24-team format that has since been revealed has the Predators as the No.6 seed that means they’ll have to earn their way into the main playoff field. It’s expected to be a five-game series in the play-in round.

No room for error

There is no room for error in a five-game scenario. The Predators have to get this right when choosing who to start, and it just seems like a reach to put Rinne in there, as much as I love and respect the guy.

Rinne has had a decorated career and is the most important and successful player in Nashville Predators history. There’s no doubt about it, but it can’t last forever.

Putting Rinne in as the Game 1 starter basically says that what Saros accomplished towards the end really means nothing. It would be different if we were entering an 82-game regular season, but we’re not. It’s a five-game series with no room for error.

It would also be different if Saros had been struggling throughout the last month of the regular season, and the Predators just covered up for him by giving up a lot of goal support. Quite the contrary.

The only way I can advocate Rinne becoming the starter in the play-in series, or beyond, is if Saros completely falls apart to the point that it’s directly his fault that the Predators are losing.

You’re not going to convince me to supplant Saros with Rinne just because the Predators lose in a tight battle by a score of 3-2 or 2-1. It will have to be a four or five-goal bloodbath for me to say it’s Rinne’s starting job again.

This might seem harsh on Rinne, but it’s the cold hard truth. He has another year left on his contract and can remain a quality backup to Saros, but it ends there for me.

Starting Rinne in Game 1 would have the potential to end disastrous and further cloud his ending times with the Predators. It just wouldn’t make sense and would send the wrong signal to your future franchise goaltender.

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After saying all of this, I won’t be incredibly surprised if Rinne is the starter. I won’t agree with it, but I also know that the organization wants to watch Rinne carry the team to a Stanley Cup.

Let’s see what happens as it will be very intriguing to see unfold.