Can the Predators Survive a Bad Stretch of Hockey from Juice?
The Predators have never been a team confused with being able to overcome shaky goaltending. Fortunately for them, they rarely have to deal with that because Juuse Saros usually is the one having to bail everyone else out.
But what if Saros shows he’s human and has a bad five-game stretch or so? Are the Predators good enough to weather that and give Saros, or backup Kevin Lankinen, the goal support to offset that?
You’re probably sensing a theme here over the first three storylines. Everything ties back into the Predators improving on the offensive end. That’s why this win over the New Jersey Devils, a very good team with Stanley Cup potential, is so eye-opening.
We saw that the full potential of this team when players are aggressive on the puck and finding each other in scoring situations. Dominating puck possession, pressuring the opposition into giveaways and letting your forecheck create offense.
However, I’m not fully sold that the Predators have turned a corner in that department based off just one really impressive offensive showing. And with that, I still fear Saros will be called upon to remain near-perfect after the All-Star break to keep the playoff streak alive.
Saros is third among goaltenders in Goals Save Above Expected and first in Saves on Unblocked Shots. He will almost certainly have to remain at that top level, whereas some other goaltenders have the luxury of high-powered offensive teams to bail them out on nights when they’re not their best.