Maybe one of the best days for an NHL goaltender in history when you count that Juuse Saros not only got selected to his second NHL All-Star Game, but also made 64 saves to push the Nashville Predators to a win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
In perfect fashion, Saros was as chill as ever in the postgame interview saying, “Yeah, it’s pretty cool”:
Saros historically had one of the best performances in the long NHL history for a goaltender, tying for the third-most saves in a game, and second-most in a non-overtime game.
The All-Star announcement to the public was made during the game, but Saros actually learned of his second career All-Star selection prior. What a way to confirm that choice.
Saros Always Gives the Nashville Predators a Chance to Win
For anyone who may have been watching Saros’ epic performance and thinking he wasn’t deserving, I’m sure there were some, they were reminded just how elite this guy is.
There is absolutely no doubt that if the Nashville Predators didn’t have Saros then this team would be a shoo-in for a lottery pick. He bails them out on so many nights that it has become a regular occurrence.
If the Predators make it back to the postseason in 2023, the opposition will always be a little nervous no matter how much better of a roster they may have because Saros is that unique elite goaltender that can be the equalizer. He did it against the Hurricanes and their 67 shots on goal, and does it on smaller scales constantly.
This is a major reason why I’m skeptical that General Manager David Poile will ever fully commit to a real rebuild. As long as he has Saros, he is going to think there’s always a chance and he just needs to build more pieces around him.
Saros will join his Central Division squad that includes a player from every team. There will still be a fan vote to fill out each division roster.
Central Division All-Star Squad
- Juuse Saros (Preds)
Cale Makar (Avs)
Vladimir Tarasenko (Blues)
Kirill Kaprizov (Wild)
Jason Robertson (Stars)
Clayton Keller (Coyotes)
Josh Morrissey (Jets)
Seth Jones (Blackhawks)
Saros leads the NHL in total saves with 880 while also facing the most shots at 959. Both Connor Hellebuyck and Jake Oettinger are two other Central Division goalies who are putting up strong numbers this season and should get a lot of fan votes.
To Hellebuyck’s defense, he was also very deserving of an All-Star spot to represent alongside Saros. I lean slightly towards him over Oettinger because he has a higher Goals Saved Above Expected that both Oettinger and Saros, for that matter.
It’s hard to make these All-Star selections with each team being allotted a player, regardless of how bad of a season that team may be having. This format has its pros and cons. On the pro side, the NHL is able to showcase every team and keep fans from every team happy.
On the flip side, you get a lot of snubs in this process. For instance, for the Avalanche they didn’t have Mikko Rantanen selected, which is a travesty to say the least. He’s tied for sixth in goals in the entire NHL.
Rantanen will almost certainly be selected as one of the three choices in the fan vote for the Central Division.
Perhaps Roman Josi will get some love in the fan vote as well to get another Predators player to the 2023 All Star Game. You can vote here.
Josi isn’t blazing through on the stat sheet like he was last season when he nearly hit 100 points, but he’s still top-10 in most offensive categories among defensemen and has just been plagued by a low shooting percentage.
Filip Forsberg has been on fire as of late but will most likely not pick up his second career All-Star selection. He went to the All-Star Game in 2015 as a member of “Team Toews”. Shea Weber was also on that team representing the Nashville Predators.
Forsberg, as a rookie, was originally just in the Skills Competition but ended up being an injury replacement. He scored two goals in the 17 to 12 win for his squad.
You only get three fan votes per division in the current All-Star format, so it will be tough for Josi to get picked. My guess is Rantanen, Kyle Connor and Connor Hellebuyck get the remaining three votes for the Central Division from the fans.
As for Saros, he is obviously extremely deserving of this All-Star selection and will have several more to come. A Vezina Trophy is also still very attainable in 2023 if the Nashville Predators can surge back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs on the back of Saros.