Three Things Barry Trotz is Looking to Change for Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators talks with Head Coach Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals speaks during Media Day for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators talks with Head Coach Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals speaks during Media Day for the 2016 NHL All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena on January 29, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Can We Finally Give Juice Some Help??

This franchise has lived and died by elite goaltending for over a decade now spanning over careers of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros. We are extremely fortunate to go from Rinne to Saros, but wasting the careers of both of these elite goaltenders without winning a Stanley Cup gives me nightmares.

Trotz made a rather subtle comment on this, but it still stood out to me:

"We’ve got elite goaltending. Elite goaltending covers a lot of stuff up. I want to temper the expectations a bit”."

Yet another very forthcoming and genuine observations that I appreciate from Trotz on what we’ve all seen for a while now. This team can only go as far as Saros, and for the longest time Rinne, can take them.

This team has to evolve into a team that can win even when their goaltender has an off night. These are all humans and have bad days at the office. When Saros has a bad day at the office, you can almost bet the farm the Predators are going to lose.

Saros had the highest Expected Goals Against in the NHL this past season at 217.67 while also being the NHL leader in Goals Saved Above Expected at 46.7. He seized control of that top spot as the Predators were trying to miraculously defy the odds and claim a playoff spot. They came up three points short.

Furthermore, Saros received just 2.57 goal per game of goal support, which is among the lowest in the NHL among goaltenders with at least 40 starts.

Lowest Goal Support for Goalies with 40-plus Starts

(Per PlusMinusLine.com)

  1. John Gibson, ANA- 2.32 Goals Per Game
  2. Carter Hart, PHI- 2.52 Goals Per Game
  3. James Reimer, SJ- 2.55 Goals Per Game
  4. Juuse Saros, NSH- 2.57 Goals Per Game
  5. Jake Allen, MTL- 2.62 Goals Per Game

Trotz is addressing the gigantic elephant in the room; this team can’t can’t over the hump until they start helping out their goaltender and not relying on elite level of play between the pipes to cover up their deficiencies.

Now to be fair, the Predators did start to gradually build on something defensively down the stretch, most notably on the penalty kill. They rallied to finish top-10 in the NHL in penalty kill success, finishing at sixth with a 82.6 success rate.

To play devil’s advocate, how much did Saros have to do with that? Probably a decent amount, but I also saw guys laying their bodies out there and committing to not getting beat on special teams. So there’s something to build on in the offseason.

Until the Nashville Predators become a team that can beat you with goaltending or with a high-scoring offensive attack, they’re never going to hang with the NHL’s most elite teams. Trotz sees that and knows he has some pieces already here but obviously has to get creative in the offseason as well.