Tuesday night was one of mixed emotions for the Nashville Predators, to say the least. They suffered a gut-wrenching 5-4 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames when they were 0.1 seconds away from clinching a playoff berth.
The good news is that by virtue of the Vegas Golden Knights’ shootout loss shortly after, the Predators clinched a playoff berth and will be playing postseason hockey for the eighth-straight year.
That eases the blow of the devastating game, but that is not what the team and fans are thinking about right now. They’re thinking about their franchise goaltender.
What is haunting the Predators’ dreams right now is that Juuse Saros exited the game with an apparent non-contact injury in the third period. Watching him go off the ice last night, he couldn’t put any weight on his left leg as he went down the tunnel.
Here is the latest on Saros and what this means for the Predators as the playoffs approach.
A tough task gets even tougher for Nashville Predators
As of this afternoon, the status on Saros is that he has a lower-body injury and will miss at least the final two games of the regular season. Connor Ingram has now been re-called from AHL Milwaukee in Saros’ absence.
We still don’t know the official timeline of the injury, whether it is day-to-day or week-to-week, although it is a good thing that he hasb’t yet been placed on injured reserve. That provides hope that the injury is not as severe as originally feared, and he could be back for the playoffs.
There’s no guarantee Saros will be back in time for Game 1, and if he is out, then the Predators can essentially give up any hopes they had for a surprise run.
There really isn’t much else to say, without the backbone of their team and one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. There’s just not going to be much that they can do.
David Rittich is not going to be able to carry the team, and having only played two games at the NHL level, Ingram will not be able to either.
Even if Saros is out for only one or two games, the Predators are likely going to have to catch up from behind, which is not a hole that this team is going to be able to dig themselves out of.
What this means for the rest of the regular season
In terms of how this affects the rest of the regular season, they have two games left, which do still matter because wildcard seeding is at stake.
There is no doubt that the Nashville Predators would rather play the Flames than the Avalanche, so they are going to do everything they can to hang onto that top wildcard spot.
You can almost guarantee that Rittich and Ingram will split the next two games between against the Avalanche and Coyotes, so keeping their current spot will obviously be a challenge for the Predators.
A higher seed would be nice but the lower seed would not be the end of the world, especially considering that their chances of winning a Stanley Cup are so slim anyway.
Right now, I am sure fans and the organization could care less about those two games as long as Saros is good to go for Game 1. That better be the case, or else the playoffs might be over before they begin for the Nashville Predators.