As of now, the Predators sit in the first Western Conference Wild card spot with 78 points. The Predators have won three in a row after beating the starts back to back in a home and home and beating the Canadiens last night, 4-2:
The Preds are currently in a three way tie with one game in hand over the Jets.
The Predators won two impressive games in back to back shutouts to get them to this point. They beat the Stars last Thursday and Saturday, 2-0 and 1-0. These wins were a result of many things, the biggest being the play of Juuse Saros.
Pekka Rinne was pulled from last Wednesday’s game in the worst way imaginable after he allowed 8 goals through 2 and a half periods. Rinne, 37, has had a few poor games but none
as bad as that against Edmonton. Rinne is much older than the average NHL goalie age of 30 though he has still had great games that remind us of his old self. By no means his Pekka Rinne’s career over, but Juuse Saros gives the Predators a better chance to win right now and that was made clear last week.
Juuse Saros posted back to back shutouts against Dallas and earned the second longest shutout streak in Predators history after not allowing a goal for 178:22. The record is held by Dan Ellis after he did not allow a goal for 233:39 in 2008. Saros made some incredible saves to keep the Preds in each of the last three game, even when the offense was struggling.
Saros has immensely improved from last season and it is showing. Last season, Saros acted as a backup plan while this season, he is close to splitting starts with Rinne, starting 35 games to Rinne's 36. Many people have doubted Saros because of his height of 5"11 (the average NHL goalie is 6"2). While Saros' height may not be ideal for a goalie, he has shown the ability to win any game because of his consistent play.
In 2017, the Predators made it to the Stanley Cup Finals in large part because of Pekka Rinne. Rinne got hot at the right time and lead the Predators to the Finals. The Preds have now won 3 games in a row, surprising many people who did not think this team was capable of stringing together wins. Juuse Saros can have a similar effect to Pekka Rinne in 2017 and he can be the reason the Preds make a run in the playoffs.