Predators rule out Juuse Saros for rest of regular season

Predators rule out Juuse Saros for rest of regular season
Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

In a decision that really only sheds a bit of light on an injury situation, the Predators announced that goalie Juuse Saros will not play in either of the team’s remaining two regular season games. As is hockey custom, the Predators only specified that Saros is dealing with a lower-body injury.

(Last night, ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski indicated that it might be ankle-related.)

Injury prompts Predators to rule out Saros for remaining regular season games

With Saros out, the Predators recalled Connor Ingram from the AHL. Being that the Predators’ remaining regular season games happen on the road on Thursday (at Colorado) and Friday (at Arizona), it would make sense for both Ingram and David Rittich to start a game apiece.

It’s an understatement to say that the Predators badly need Saros to be as close to full-strength as possible for the playoffs. While the Predators clinched a playoff spot on Tuesday, Saros was injured during a fight-filled game against the Flames.

Saros has appeared in 67 games so far this season, going 38-25-3 with a .918 save percentage that only provides a glimpse of his value. His 22.69 GSAA (Goals Saved Above Average) ranks fifth-best in the NHL this season, and he also generated a 20.86 GSAA last season (third-best). It’s not easy to find a goalie who can combine quality and quantity like Saros has the past two seasons.

David Rittich’s played in 16 games so far this season, including 11 starts. His .883 save percentage doesn’t inspire much confidence, and his -9.24 GSAA ranks 13th-worst in the NHL.

It’s fair to ask if the Predators should’ve taken more looks at Connor Ingram even before Saros suffered this injury. Beyond two games with the Predators, Ingram produced a solid .915 save percentage and 30-17-7 record in 54 AHL contests this season.

[The Push for the Playoffs]

The Predators clinched one of the wild-card spots, and if they maintain their spot, they’d face the Flames. If the Stars pass them, then the Predators would take on the Avalanche.

For all that’s gone right for the Predators this season (Roman Josi skyrocketing; Matt Duchene making $8M a bargain), a reasonably healthy Saros still gives them the best chance to pull off playoff upsets. If an injury reduced some of his exceptional athleticism — or kept him out of action, period — it would likely make the Predators a much easier out.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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