NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Nashville Predators:
[Predators 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown]
1. Saros' save percentage
Backup goalie Juuse Saros played an NHL career-high 31 games last season. He had an NHL career-high 17 wins with a .915 save percentage. The 24-year-old's .921 save percentage since 2016-17 is tied for fourth in the NHL with Philipp Grubauer of the Colorado Avalanche, Pekka Rinne of Nashville, Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning among goalies to play at least 75 games in that span. Rinne will turn 37 on Nov. 3, which means Saros is probably due for more starts. If given the opportunity, Saros has underlying numbers that suggest he'll succeed: his .899 save percentage when facing the opposing power play is third among goalies to play at least 75 games since 2016-17 and he is tied for 11th in even-strength save percentage (.924) over the same span.
Video: 31 in 31: Nashville Predators 2019-20 season preview
2. Duchene's face-off percentage
Center Matt Duchene had 58 points (27 goals, 31 assists) in 50 games for the Ottawa Senators, who traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Feb. 22. His production dropped with the Blue Jackets at first with 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 23 regular-season games, but he bounced back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 10 games. One of Duchene's quieter strengths is winning face-offs; he finished 14th in the NHL last season (55.3 percent) among skaters to take at least 800. The Predators were fifth in the NHL in face-off percentage last season (51.5 percent), and Duchene could boost them even further.
3. Power-play percentage
Nashville had the worst power play in the NHL last season (12.9 percent). The addition of Duchene should help to offset the loss of defenseman P.K. Subban, who has 177 power-play points since 2010-11 (fourth among NHL defensemen in that period). The Predators also hired Dan Lambert as an assistant to address this need. Lambert coached Spokane of the Western Hockey League the past two seasons, and Spokane's power play led the WHL last season (29.1 percent in the regular season, 36.1 percent in the playoffs). Expect the power play to be Lambert's main focus; with Duchene's help, it wouldn't be surprising to see the Predators drastically improve.
Listen: NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast