The Nashville Predators are on quite a roll, having won five straight games and seven of their last eight.
Wins over Tampa, Florida, Dallas, Detroit (twice), and Chicago (twice) have vaulted the Preds out of the basement in their division. They now find themselves in 4th place, and in a playoff spot, for the first time since January.
While the jury is still out on whether this Nashville Predators team is a legitimate playoff contender, there’s no denying they look like a different team than they did in January. Check out the conversation I had with Buck Reising on 104.5 The Zone on Tuesday for more on how different the Preds look on the ice these days.
One of the biggest keys to their recent surge in the standings?
Preds ride hot goaltending from Saros and Rinne to playoff position
Over the past 16 days, the Preds have been the best team in the league in terms of goaltending.
That’s not exaggeration; it’s a fact.
According to Natural Stat Trick, since March 14th, the Nashville Predators rank 1st in the league in save percentage at all strengths with an .959 mark. Rinne and Saros have combined for a .957 percentage at 5-on-5, but it’s their impressive .975 percentage on the penalty kill that is doing a lot of the work.
Goaltending league ranks for the #Preds since March 14th (8 games):
All strengths —– 1st
5 on 5 ———— 2nd
Shorthanded —– 2nd
high danger (all)– 7th
high danger (sh)– 2nd
— Alex Daugherty (@AlexDaugherty1) March 30, 2021
Those numbers are probably not sustainable the rest of the season, particularly for 38-year-old Pekka Rinne, though he has certainly done as much as anyone on the team to keep the Predators in the playoff mix.
But Juuse Saros has been outstanding. He has 167 saves on 171 shots in his last five games, a ridiculous save percentage of .977 in that span. He did get scratched from Sunday’s game in Chicago with a “day to day” designation, but it sounds like he will get the start on Tuesday against Dallas. So no worries there.
If the Nashville Predators are going to keep this winning streak alive, and their playoff hopes, they will probably need this hot goaltending streak to continue.
— Featured image via Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports —