Josi discusses Predators faith in Saros during sit-down with NHL.com

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NHL.com’s Q&A feature called “Sitting Down With …” runs each Sunday. We talk to key figures in the game, gaining insight into their lives on and off the ice.

This edition features Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi.

Roman Josi has been a big part of the Nashville Predators for the past decade, from his arrival as a heralded rookie in the 2011-12 season, to being named captain in 2017 and winning the Norris Trophy voted as the top NHL defenseman in 2019-20. 

Josi was an integral part of their run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, the first in franchise history, scoring 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 22 playoff games before the Predators lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the Final.

The 31-year-old from Bern, Switzerland, has scored 458 points (121 goals, 337 assists) in 691 NHL regular-season games, including 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 11 games this season ahead of Nashville’s game at the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; SN1, NBCSCH, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

NHL.com caught up with Josi recently to ask him about a variety of topics, including the state of Predators, the upcoming 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union Stadium Series game against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay Lightning at Nissan Stadium on Feb. 26 and the 2022 Beijing Olympics in February.

 

What’s the biggest reason to be optimistic about the Predators this season? 

“I think the way we ended [last] season, even after the playoffs, I thought we played [the Carolina Hurricanes] pretty well. I think the series could have gone either way (Nashville lost in six games in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round). And I think you’ve just got to take confidence from that, and I think we kind of found our identity, the way we have to play, the way we have to play to be successful and win games and I think that should give us a lot of confidence.” 

You led the team in points for a second straight season in 2020-21. What did you think of your season? 

“I mean, I wasn’t too happy with my season (33 points; eight goals, 25 assists in 48 regular-season games). I think I didn’t play up to my full potential. I think I was just a little bit inconsistent last year. I think there’s another level. So, I’m excited for [this] year.” 

Is that the Norris Trophy level from 2019-20 or is there an even higher ceiling for you? 

“Yeah, I mean obviously that was a really good season [in 2019-20], and I think sometimes, maybe last year too, a little bit, it’s hard coming off a season where you have a great season, you win Norris, you know almost seems like everything’s perfect, right? Which it was, but in every league, you go through ups and downs, and you kind of always compare yourself to that season a little bit. Which sometimes probably doesn’t help. But yeah, I mean, I think, obviously, that was a great season and … you always try to get better, you always try to improve and take that next step.”

Video: NSH@VAN: Josi finds net on one-timer for opening PPG

What’s changed for the Predators since Pekka Rinne retired?

“A lot. I mean he’s such an amazing guy to have in the locker room. One of the nicest people, one of the best teammates I’ve ever played with. And just him as a goalie, I mean, he’s my goalie for my whole 11 years in the NHL and he’s such an amazing goalie. Especially as a defenseman, I think the way he played the puck, he made my life so much easier. So, we’ll miss him on the ice, but most importantly, we’ll miss him off the ice. Because like I said, he was an amazing teammate.” 

Juuse Saros is Nashville’s No. 1 goalie now. What did he prove last season? 

“I think he was one of, if not the best, goalie toward the end of the season. I mean he was unbelievable [21-11-1, 2.28 goals-against average, .927 save percentage in 36 games]. I think he was the biggest reason we made it to the playoffs. We always knew how good he was because we practice with him every day and he’s really hard to score on. And just the way he plays, he’s so quick at going from side-to-side. I’m really excited to see him as a No. 1.”

You’ve played one outdoor game, the 2020 Winter Classic in Dallas, but how much are you looking forward to the Predators hosting the Stadium Series this season? 

“Yeah, that will be exciting. The Winter Classic was amazing, that was an unbelievable experience. Playing at Nissan Stadium is going to be a lot of fun. And I think if there’s one thing Nashville knows how to do, it’s how to throw a party for a game like that. I think it’ll be a pretty fun weekend.” 

How excited are you to participate in the Olympics again?

“Really excited. I had the privilege to play in Sochi (in 2014), which was a really cool experience, and I think every time you can play for your home country, Olympics is even more special, I think. It’s a huge honor and I’m really glad the NHL decided to go.” 

As a tennis fan, I’ll ask you this one. What’s faster do you think: a Roman Josi slap shot or a serve from Roger Federer? 

“That’s a good question. … I think the serve, right? I think they serve like 160 [kilometers per hour]? So, like 120 mph? Probably Federer.” 

Which one do you think is harder to stop? 

“Federer too. I can’t imagine trying to stop a serve. I mean not even trying to stop it, trying to put it back is even harder.” 

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