A dynamic duo?
Juuse Saros is the primary starter going into the season, but Pekka Rinne will get his fair share of starts as well in this condensed 56-game schedule.
A lot of back-to-backs and mini series against the same opponent is going to required using multiple goaltenders throughout the season.
Starting with Saros, the pressure is heavily on him to pick up where he left off back in March. He really put the team on his back and carried them to a No.6 seed going into the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
Saros didn’t play at a top level in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, but neither did the team in front of him. Now that the defense has been addressed over the offseason through free agency pickups, the goaltending should get better.
As for Rinne, he’s likely going into his farewell season with the Predators. Some of the weight that’s been on his shoulders for many seasons is now taken off. He’s the backup that can hopefully come in and steal some wins.
Neither Saros or Rinne are going to win the Vezina Trophy by any means this season, but they’re also not going to be the main problem for the Predators. They’ll both play good enough in net to keep the Predators highly competitive in the Central Division.
I also won’t be surprised at all if a third goaltender gets in the mix for a start or two because Saros or Rinne will need rest. That goaltender will be Connor Ingram.
Season Prediction for Saros: 30 starts, 16-12-2 record, 3 shutouts, 2.75 GAA
Season Prediction for Rinne: 24 starts, 12-10-2 record, 2 shutouts, 3.00 GAA
The reason why I’m optimistic that the Predators can push for the fourth spot in the Central Division is predicated on these previously mentioned players having either bounce-back seasons or maintaining their level of production that they’ve shown throughout their careers.
It’s the newcomers and inexperienced players joining the roster that give me reservations regarding depth scoring and team chemistry.
Write down these predictions or screenshot them so we can all analyze how right or wrong I was in May. The regular season is slotted to start on January 13.