Watch out for those Nashville Predators who are suddenly right back in the thick of things after their 3-0 shutout win over the Ottawa Senators on Monday.
Juuse Saros didn’t cool off in the slightest in his first start since recording 64 saves in a win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which is third-most in a game in NHL history.
If you’re keeping track, Saros has 102 saves over his last two games, giving him a .970 save percentage. The Senators tested him early and was all over the high scoring areas but couldn’t crack through.
The Senators put up 14 shots on Saros in the first period, and another 16 shots in the third period. They racked up 18 high danger scoring chances but still got shutout, which is Saros’ first of the season.
Are the Nashville Predators Becoming a Legit Contender?
Before the season started my benchmark for this team was finish in the top-three of the division see what happens with a better playoff seed. They’re now just three points behind third-place Minnesota in the Central Division and one point behind Edmonton for a wildcard spot.
If you take out the loss the Dallas Stars when they gave up the go-ahead goal with under one minute left in regulation, the Predators would have a ten-game point streak going dating back to December 19, a win over Edmonton.
As long as the Nashville Predators have Saros, anything is possible. It’s why there’s always a handful of analysts out there willing to take a flyer on the Predators. Obviously, the main issue is getting enough goal support against the elite teams in a seven-game playoff series.
Saros is showing he’s capable of doing the unthinkable no matter the opponent. Against the Senators, he only had to face just over half the number of shots he faced against the Hurricanes three days prior.
Aside from Saros, the Predators penalty kill is showing how reliable it is. It’s becoming a major strength for this team that can do wonders for their postseason hopes if they stay successful in this area.
The Senators entered last night’s game against the Predators with a top-five power play in the NHL but were held to 0-for-5. The Predators also went 0-for-5 on their power play, which has been wildly inconsistent all season.
Colton Sissons in particular is really standing out for the penalty kill. His ability to win crucial faceoff to clear the puck can’t go unnoticed in the recent success.
The combination of Saros and a strong penalty kill is going to win the Predators a lot of games down the stretch. Perhaps just enough to get them back into the postseason for a ninth-straight season.
However, an offense that is one of the lowest scoring offenses in the NHL is still a legitimate concern that will catch up to them against the really good teams. Saros can’t be perfect every night.
Who Stood Out in the Win?
Besides Saros, you have to point to Filip Forsberg who is now up to 16 goals on the season, which is still behind his enormous scoring pace he was on in 2021-22 alongside Matt Duchene.
Forsberg has seven goals over his last seven games, including the hat trick against the Vegas Golden Knights.
For all of the struggles the Predators have at providing goal support to Saros, Forsberg kicking it up a couple notches has been a key catalyst as of late in this past ten game stretch.
Going back to that turning point win against Edmonton on December 19, that was when Tommy Novak made his return to the Predators lineup. He has points in seven of those ten games and has absolutely opened up more scoring chances for the Predators. Everything has seemed to flow a little bit better with him in the lineup.
Roman Josi, by his lofty standards, started the season off in ordinary fashion. Much like Forsberg, Josi is starting to get hot as well. He put up seven shots on goal against the Senators while scoring his tenth goal.
Josi’s point per game pace is gradually ticking back up and would be his third highest of his NHL career if the season ended today.
Finally, let me end with Jeremy Lauzon. He got his second goal of the season on a goal that everyone thought originally belonged to Tanner Jeannot.
Lauzon isn’t out there to produce goal support. What he is out there to do is provide the physicality and do the dirty work. He plays with a moxxy that’s fun to watch. He just needs to be more mindful of not taking unnecessary penalties. He racked up eight penalty minutes, which isn’t ideal considering he’s a key contributor on the penalty kill.
The Nashville Predators have one day off before another back-to-back to end the road trip. They’ll face Toronto and Montreal before returning home to take on Buffalo on Saturday. Three games in four days will test the stamina of this team.
I would expect Saros on Thursday against Toronto and Kevin Lankinen on Friday against Montreal.