The Nashville Predators have succeeded this year based on the play of Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne’s play. While Rinne has posted a 14-5-1 record, a 1.96 GAA and a .929 save percentage, his backup Juuse Saros, who many felt might share net responsibilities with the 36-year-old Rinne this year, hasn’t fared nearly as well with an 8-5 record, a 3.14 GAA and a .893 save percentage.
However, while Saros’ numbers suggest that he’s struggling this season, head coach Peter Laviolette said Saturday that he believes that the team isn’t playing well when the 23-year-old is in net, according to The Athletic’s Adam Vingan (subscription required).
“I’m going to be perfectly honest. I think that we’ve played lousy in front of (Saros),” Laviolette said. “There’s got to be accountability to the 18 guys that go out in front of him. Just too many odd-man rushes, too many point-blank chances, and that’s got to stop. And when that stops, he’s going to feel better and look better in there. There’s just too much coming at him.”
While Vingan writes that there is some truth to the comment as the team has had some of their worst defensive showings with Saros in net, including losses to San Jose on Nov. 13, to St. Louis on Nov. 23 and Calgary on Dec. 8. However, when looking even deeper, Vingan notes that both goalies have faced the same number of quality shots per game and it’s just Rinne’s amazing play that has separated the two goaltenders.
- Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos suggested (via The Athletic’s Adam Vingan)that the unknown injury that Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban is dealing with has nothing to do with the suspected back injury that he dealt with two years ago. Subban has missed 15 games this year with the undisclosed injury, but Kypreos said that Subban could be out for a bit longer. “It’s a real conservative approach by Nashville to keep him out. They think a 50-plus (game) regular season for P.K. could benefit him,” Kypreos said Saturday night on Hockey Night in Canada.
- Lou Korac of NHL.com writes that oft-injured forward Robby Fabbri said he still should have a better idea around Christmas of his timetable of returning from his separated shoulder injury. “We’re just taking it day by day. I’m listening to the shoulder. What I do that day depends on how I wake up feeling and how I felt from the day before.”
- Jon Lieser of the Chicago Sun-Times writes that while he’s not playing today, Chicago Blackhawks forward Artem Anisimov is close to returning to action. The 30-year-old should be eligible to be activated off IR before Tuesday’s game as he continues his recovery from a concussion suffered by a hit from Montreal’s Shea Weber on Dec. 9. “He looks like he’s closer to coming back, so hopefully he can,” coach Jeremy Colliton said at the morning skate. “I haven’t heard that he’s ready-ready, but we think he’s not far away.”