Three Stars: Tuesday in the NHL
1. Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators
Remember how Craig Anderson strangely rotated bad/mediocre seasons with brilliant ones? That pattern eventually ended, leaving us nerds to wonder if it was a coincidence, or merely a matter of Anderson getting too old/playing on too many bad teams.
It’s increasingly feeling like Juuse Saros has his own cold-and-hot pattern that may or may not be a coincidence.
After the Predators couldn’t support Saros enough when he put together a .918 save percentage in January, things got ugly in February. Saros slogged through that month with an .860 save percentage, with Nashville bailing him out a bit. Now, in March, Saros is absolutely on fire.
Yes, the Red Wings aren’t exactly loaded offensively, but a 31-save shutout still ranks as impressive. Better yet, it’s part of a larger hot streak for the smaller Predators goalie.
While the strange rhythm of this season skews things a bit, the evidence continues to mount that Saros tends to improve as a season goes along. (Five games in April notwithstanding.) Check out this screen of his career split stats, via Hockey Reference:
Either way, the Predators are starting to push their way into the (honestly kind of shambling) race for the fourth spot in the Central Division.
Sure, the Predators don’t look like a favorite, but there’s some reason to believe. If they get there, it might come down to Saros leading the way. (Though Pekka Rinne‘s last couple starts foster some additional hope.)
2. Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Despite receiving a power play in overtime, MacKinnon and the Avalanche couldn’t win back-to-back games against the Coyotes. Instead, they settled for a “charity point” after losing via shootout.
But MacKinnon continues to look like one of the best players in the NHL. He collected a goal and two assists in this one, and was all over the place with an impressive eight shots on goal.
This three-point night extended MacKinnon’s point streak to seven games (5G, 8A). The speedy center has 35 points in 27 games this season. MacKinnon’s also generated three points in three of his last four games.
3. Kevin Lankinen, Chicago Blackhawks
On a pretty low-scoring Tuesday in the NHL, you could make an argument for Lankinen’s teammate. Patrick Kane helped Chicago win with two assists. MacKinnon’s teammates also generated two points apiece (Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, and Cale Makar).
Let’s go with Kevin Lankinen, instead.
Chalk it up to the gravity of regression, but Lankinen’s Calder argument has been running out of steam lately. Yet, if the Blackhawks manage to stumble into a playoff spot, he’ll still get some mentions. (And Patrick Kane might get … maybe a few too many Hart votes.)
On Tuesday, Lankinen stopped 33 out of 35 shots to secure a Chicago win. Even with Aleksander Barkov a surprise late scratch, Florida’s a formidable opponent, and Lankinen helped the Blackhawks win.
Strange “hot mic” controversy in Predators – Red Wings
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the NHL is looking into an official possibly being caught on a “hot mic” talking about a “makeup call” in Predators – Red Wings. We’ll see if a weird situation gets weirder? *shrug*
Hard to say where this goes over the next day or so, but the NHL is definitely looking into the "hot mic" incident discussing a penalty call from the DET/NASH game
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) March 24, 2021
Highlights from NHL on Tuesday
Juuse Saros really cements his status as the top star of the NHL on Tuesday with this series of stops:
Why not just enjoy some highlights from the Devils upsetting the Flyers? New Jersey’s first two goals were especially nice:
Tuesday’s NHL scores
Devils 4, Flyers 3
Blackhawks 3, Panthers 2
Predators 2, Red Wings 0
Lightning 2, Stars 1
Coyotes 5, Avalanche 4 (SO)