The most important question facing the Nashville Predators no longer is which goalie will start. It’s whether the one who does actually will be able to finish.
In each of the last two games the starter did not make it to the end of the first period and that has coach Barry Trotz making in-game changes at a record pace.
“The goalies that we have are trying their best, plain and simple,” Trotz said. “And as a group in front of them, [the skaters] are trying their best. Right now they are going through a little bit of a dry spell. Does it affect our psyche? Yeah. It’s almost like getting hit with a stun gun. You’re in that stun mode for a few minutes, and then you have to work through that.”
When he pulled Carter Hutton after 5:59 and two goals allowed (on four shots) Monday against Boston it was the seventh time in 37 games this season he needed to make a switch. Two nights earlier, Hutton replaced Marek Mazanec, who gave up three goals on five shots in just 14:37.
Already, Trotz has made as many goalie switches this season as in any of the previous five full seasons and is halfway to the most he’s ever made – with four games to go before the mid-point of this season.
A look at the most relief appearances by Nashville Predators goalies:
14 – 2007-08
11 – 1998-99
9 – 2001-02
8 – 2003-04
7 – 2013-14 (37 games)
7 – 2011-12
7 – 2009-10
7 – 2002-03
Twice, the Predators have gotten 78 complete games from their goalies. That was in 1999-00 (Tomas Vokoun and Mike Dunham) and 2006-07 (Vokoun, Chris Mason and Michael Leighton).
At this point they’ll be happy to get just one when they play at Dallas on Friday (7:30 p.m., Fox Sports-Tennessee).