The Predators announced that Juuse Saros will miss at least a month with an ankle injury he suffered against the Calgary Flames earlier this week. For a couple reasons this stinks: Saros is among the league’s very best goaltenders and Nashville seems unlikely to survive a playoff round without him. The timing could not be worse. But a silver lining exists if, say, you are me and have plans to go watch the Predators play the Colorado Avalanche on a Thursday night with no rooting interest beyond “just want to see some goals, doesn’t matter who scores them, please just let me see those goals.” I am the sort of person who is, at any given moment in a hockey game, mentally dividing her ticket price by number of cool goals witnessed.
Imagine my delight to learn that backing up Saros this year has been David Rittich, formerly of the Flames and Leafs. His capacity to make the North Division’s sorriest randos look like Alex Ovechkin last year was almost impressive. Whoever once christened him “Big Save Dave” presumably did so in sincerity, but I think it’s since become the nickname version of a Bronx cheer. Surely he could be relied on to gimme my precious goals!
In the end, Big Save Dave and I reached an unlikely compromise: He actually made enough saves to get his Predators the shootout win, let in an extremely funny goal while searching for the puck up in the netting (it wasn’t there) and threw in some entertaining flailing, as a little treat for me:
What you are observing here is advanced goalie tactics. A shot went wide, and the puck caromed back overhead of Rittich, who swiveled around to glove it and did actually glove it, only to clothesline himself right after.
I watched this happen, rewatched it as it looped on the Jumbotron, watched it many times after the game had ended and then watched it immediately after waking up today. Over several hundred viewings, I have come to see it not as foolish or ridiculous-looking or the stuff of clowns, but as an actually impressive athletic feat. He makes the catch, runs into a crossbar, and still hangs on! That was, indeed, a Big Save, Dave.