When looking around the Nashville Predators locker room, it may be hard to spot Juuse Saros without his goalie pads on.
After all, there are only three players on the Predators roster that are smaller than the 5-foot-11 Fin. And when he is standing next to fellow Finnish net minder Pekka Rinne, well, let’s just say Saros looks more like the kid brother to the 6-foot-5 Rinne than his backup.
However, don’t let his size fool you. Juuse Saros is quickly becoming one of the most intimidating goalies in the NHL.
“He just keeps playing unbelievable for us,” Filip Forsberg said after Thursday night’s 2-1 win over the Boston Bruins. “He’s been playing really good hockey and I thought we had one Finnish goalie, and now we have two unbelievable Finnish goalies. They’ve obviously been the keys to our victories this year.”
In eight starts this season, Saros is 4-3-1 with a 1.25 goals-against-average and .957 save percentage. Tuesday against the Bruins, he stopped 35 of the 36 shots he faced. In just a small sample size, it is clear that Saros is the real deal.
“Both of our goalies are unbelievable,” forward Austin Watson said. “Peks has been our rock back there, and then Juuse comes in and plays like that. It’s a great feeling to have both of those guys back there.”
Saros was 11-2-0 with 1.76 goals-against-average and .938 save percentage in Milwaukee before being called up by Nashville. Despite not playing in Milwaukee since Dec. 12, Saros still ranks second in the AHL in goals-against-average and save percent and 9th in wins.
“There are a lot of guys who have come up in his situation – Viktor Arvidsson, Colton Sissons, and Austin Watson,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s about opportunity. He’s gotten opportunities. He played really well in the American Hockey League, he developed to a point, but then you’ve got to get here and make the most of those opportunities. He’s done that.
“He’s had a terrific year up to this point. I think we’re hopeful that he would be able to take his development from the American Hockey League and bring it in. He’s done a great job of that.”
In his eight starts, Saros has a shut out and has given up multiple goals just twice. Many are quick to point out his lack of size, but Juuse gets results. As for why he has been so good in the NHL thus far? Well, a little luck doesn’t hurt.
“I don’t know, its tough to say,” Saros said. “You need a little bit of luck there, and guys have always played well in front of me. I’m just trying to do my own thing. I think I’m starting to gain a little bit (of trust) and it’s nice to see that they can trust me and I’ll just continue to try and build on it.”