Nashville Juuse Saros, 28, was previously among the players who were believed to be among the toughest elite of their position at Takuu this season as well. Saros has been undeniably among the NHL’s best goaltenders for a couple of years now, and last season was even a candidate for the league’s best.
However, the autumn season has been exceptionally difficult for HPK breeders.
Saros has been able to find impressive saves as before, but the whole has not yet reached the level of last season. A surprising number of goals have slipped behind, which on a good day Saros would have prevented with a routine. The sluggish autumn season can also be seen in the statistics.
While in the previous season Saros saved 46 goals more than expected, now the same reading is minus more than seven hits.
Last year, Saros was the best in the series in the statistics, currently the second weakest.
– A very weak early season, says former NHL goalie Karri Rämö.
Now: 2023-2024: -7.3
Stats: NHL.com, Moneypuck.com
However, ice hockey is a team game, and the team does not deserve absolution. Nashville has been sloppy at times defensively, allowing opponents to score about half as many goals per hour as expected by Natural Stat Trick compared to last season. To win a little more, the team would have needed more from Sarok.
For example, the struggle against Arizona a week ago (5-7) was not the best for Saro.
– Nashville has been very involved in the games and led them. Juuse’s game has even looked a little frustrated at times. On the other hand, there have been, for example, line drives that have gone through everyone, and I don’t think that kind of trend will continue, Rämö reflects.
On the other hand, Saros also started last season very similarly. The Finnish goalkeeper’s statistics were also weaker than normal in November 2022, and despite that, Saros was a candidate for goalkeeper of the year.
2020-2021: 92.7% – 2.28
2021-2022: 91.8% – 2.64
2022-2023: 91.9% – 2.69
Now: 89.2% – 3.22
Stats: NHL.com, Moneypuck.com
Technically, Rämö sees no flaws in Saros’ playing.
– There are quite a lot of things around him that might make you think. What does a club do that, through player deals, practically gave up in the winter, but hired veterans in the summer? The contract situation, rumors of a player trade… Saroks will be asked a lot again if the team wants to fight for a place in the playoffs, Rämö thinks.
There is enough buzz around
Nashville is in the middle of a rebuilding project of some sort, and there will probably be some changes in store for the veteran department. Saros’s name has been circulating heavily in player trade rumors, as the top goalkeeper’s affordable five-million contract is sure to attract many clubs.
On the other hand, according to the latest North American reports, the Nashville club management would have indicated their desire to commit to Saros, whose current contract expires in the summer of 2025.
– I heard from somewhere that the club management has talked with Juuse and his agents, that the processing of his position there is now quite deep. We have had to react to the matter and maybe he has been told that under no circumstances will we sell you, Rämö reflects.
– If there are a lot of different thoughts inside the head from outside the game, it makes it difficult. The situation at hand here is that his contract may be grinded out for a couple of years, whether there will be a new one or whether it will be traded. These can easily become a distraction in the back of your mind.
No reason to worry
Karri Rämö still refuses to be worried.
– I am by no means worried. So far, this is just a bad start to the season. If the team truly believes in what they are doing, Saros’ season can be turned around by one Colorado game like Tuesday morning, where victory is achieved in the last minute, Rämö believes.
It is clear that if Nashville, which has started the season weakly, wants to even dream of a playoff spot, it will quickly need the best possible Saros for its goals.
– It is often only at this point in the season that things begin to find their way. There are routines, the new guys have adapted to the city and the team. That’s how things calm down. Then the big push to spring begins. But it’s true that the team needs Juuse as its driving force. It will get you nowhere, Rämö concludes.