McKenna Match of the Day: April 26 – Juuse Saros vs. Dan Vladar

Former NHL goalie Mike McKenna offers his daily starting goalie game of the day for Tuesday. April 26, 2022:

Why I love this game:

If the Stanley Cup playoffs started tonight, the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators would meet in the first round. I want to see if Juuse Saros can repeat her last performance against the Flames: a 3-2 shootout victory that came a week ago on April 19.

To monitor :

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A tight, tight hockey, punctuated by quality goalkeepers. Both teams have shown they can play defensive hockey. But Calgary did it more consistently throughout the season.

Nashville may be lower in the standings than the Flames, but I think this potential game could take six or seven games to decide. And this is largely due to the Saros factor. The Finnish keeper can win games on his own, but can he steal an entire series? I think he can.

But before he gets that chance, he still has one week left in the NHL regular season. Saros has allowed 19 goals in his last five games. His save percentage fell to .918 from above .920 for most of the season. But Saros has already risen to the occasion, and I expect him to do the same once the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin.

For Calgary, Vladar’s .908 save percentage throughout the season may seem trivial. But in his first full season in the NHL, the 24-year-old didn’t just come out on top: he won 12 of 17 starts.

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I like that Vladar is similar in height and size to starter Jacob Markstrom, and that they play a similar style. Teammates know what to expect from both goalkeepers: that equals consistency.

What fantasy owners should do:

Start Vladar and Saros.

Conclusion for Juuse Saros:

Tonight’s a tune-up: Saros should use this game to build his goalie streak on one of the NHL’s best teams.

Conclusion for Dan Vladar:

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Continue to provide quality minutes. He played a bigger role in Calgary’s success than most people realize.

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