Nashville Predators at Vancouver Canucks 1st Round Preview: Who has the Edge?

The Nashville Predators will meet the Vancouver Canucks in the 1st Round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the second all-time postseason meeting between the two.
Dec 19, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) skates the
Dec 19, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) skates the / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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Dec 19, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) makes a
Dec 19, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (74) makes a / Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Goaltending

Just another example of why this matchup looks like a toss-up despite the Predators being the wildcard team and the Canucks coming up just shy of having the Western Conference's top seed. You cannot make strong claim that either team has the edge in goaltending.

Juuse Saros has playoff experience under his belt. Not a ton, but 17 games, 10 starts and a .914 save percentage. And that's a combination of relief duty during the Pekka Rinne days, and being the starter in a series that ended in six games to the mightly Carolina Hurricanes in 2021.

In Games 3 and 4 at home against the Hurricanes in 2021, Saros made 52 saves and 58 saves. Now while I don't believe he's going to be forced to make that many saves to win against the Canucks, he will be up against some great goal scorers and shooters.

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The Canucks were just 26th in the NHL in shots on goal per game at 28.4, but when the Canucks do get shots on goal they are one of the more accurate teams in the NHL in terms of shooting percentage. They are 2nd in the league, with th Predators at 16th in shooting percentage.

Thatcher Demko has only three starts in his NHL playoff career and is also coming off a long injury that had him sidelined over a month. He has since played two games to finish out the regular season, but gave up three goals on 25 shots against the Jets on the last day of the regular season.

Despite that, Demko is coming off a season where he should be a Vezina Trophy finalist finishing second only to Connor Hellebuyck in Goals Saved Above Expected while managing five shutouts, a .918 save percentage and a 2.45 GAA.

It's going to take quality over quantity to beat Demko more than likely. He's not going to give you easy goals. The Predators will have to be opportunistic on their scoring chances, especially when they have odd man rushes. Same is true for the Canucks when trying to solve Saros.

I'm going to call this another toss-up in terms of who has the edge. The Canucks fans will argue Demko, and Predators fans will mostly say Saros. The answer is, no one really knows until the series unfolds. Both are top tier goalies who can steal a few games in this series.