Juuse Saros has posted back to back shutouts for the Nashville Predators, defeating the Dallas Stars 2-0 on Thursday night and 1-0 on Saturday. Those wins have gotten Nashville very close to a wild card playoff spot in the hotly contested Western Conference. Saros has been the better goalie, in just about every way, than his partner Pekka Rinne this season. As the season comes to and end, and the Predators fight for a playoff spot, it’s time for Saros to take over the full time starting job.
Saros This Season
Juuse Saros has started 33 games this season for the Predators earning a record of 16-12-4. His individual numbers are very solid with a goals against average of 2.72 and save percentage of .913. Both, his goals against and save percentage numbers are significantly better than those of Pekka Rinne. As the Predators fight for their playoff lives over the final month of the season, they need the best goaltending they can get. Right now, that is coming from Saros.
Rinne This Season
Pekka Rinne is enduring the worst season of his career, and it appears that Father Time is catching up to the legendary goaltender. The 37 year old Rinne has started 35 games this year, earning a record of 18-14-4. His goals against average this season is a career worst 3.17, while is save percentage is just .895, also a career worst. Rinne has been particularly bad recently, losing three of his last four starts. In his last outing, he gave up a career worst eight goals to the Edmonton Oilers in a brutal 8-3 blowout loss. Pekka Rinne is the greatest goalie in Nashville Predator’s history, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s having a terrible season in 2019-20.
The Future is Now
Juuse Saros has been groomed over the past three plus years to be Pekka Rinne’s replacement. He is the goalie of the future. Well, for the Nashville Predators, the future is now. The 24 year old Saros has proven to be the better the goalie this season and needs to get a bulk of the work over the rest of the year. It’s time to make the switch for good. Rinne can still be a suitable backup, but his days of being an elite starting goalie are over. It’s not Rinne’s fault, but Father Time remains undefeated and the 37 year old is finding that out this season. What’s happening with Rinne is very similar to what has happened with Henrik Lundqvist in New York. At some point, age catches up to everyone and it’s time for the next generation to take over.
For the Predators to have any chance of making the playoffs this year, Saros needs to be the starter. A month ago I was saying that Rinne needed to step up. He didn’t do that. He’s actually been playing worse down the stretch. Saros, on the other hand, has stepped up. He’s played his best hockey over the past few weeks, and has Nashville right in the battle for a wild card playoff spot. Saros is proving he’s ready to be the go-to guy, while Rinne is clearly on the decline. It’s time for the Predators to fully make the switch in goal, for now and for the future.
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