Preds may need to send Mazanec down (Updated)

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We wrote on Monday about the New Jersey Devils and how backup goalie Keith Kinkaid has been a key to their surprising start.

So let’s talk today about the Nashville Predators. Because unlike the Devils, the Predators were supposed to be good. And also unlike the Devils, their backup, Marek Mazanec, has really struggled.

Mazanec allowed all six goals in last night’s 6-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. In his only other start, Oct. 15 in Chicago, he allowed five goals in a 5-3 loss. His save percentage so far? Just .809.

“Obviously Pekka Rinne wasn’t in net, which is what you normally expect,” said Toronto coach Mike Babcock. “So, that makes a huge difference to the other team.”

Ouch.

Rinne missed yesterday’s game with a lower-body injury. The Preds called him day-to-day, and they’re optimistic he’ll be able to play tomorrow in Ottawa.

But don’t be surprised if it’s young Juuse Saros who remains as the backup whenever Rinne is ready to go. Saros, 21, was excellent in his only start of the season, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a 5-1 victory over the Penguins on Oct. 22.

Meanwhile, Mazanec knows he could be on his way to Milwaukee.

“Anything can happen,” he told The Tennessean. “If they send me down, at least I’ll get to play some games, maybe get confidence and maybe they’ll call me back up. It’s up to them. I work hard. I try my best. If they send me down, it’s how it is. I can’t do anything about it.”

Update: Per Adam Vingan of The Tennessean, it sounds like Saros is the one who’s been sent down. We’ll see for how long, but Mazanec remains with the big club for now.

Read more: Mazanec has opportunity step into backup role

The Preds had won three straight prior to getting blown out in Toronto. After Thursday’s game in Ottawa, they finish off their road trip Saturday in St. Louis.

That Blues game will be a big one, between two Central Division teams off to middling starts. St. Louis hasn’t had a reliable backup either, as ex-Pred Carton Hutton has started 2-3-0 with a .900 save percentage.

Related: Saros is willing to be patient for Predators

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