October 28, 2011

The Buffalo Sabres: Battle of the Goaltenders

Watching Thursday night's game as Buffalo seemed to run over the Columbus Blue Jackets, I noticed something: this is some of the finest goaltending this team has seen all year. But it wasn't the $6.25 million Ryan Miller between the pipes. It was $675,000 Jhonas Enroth.

The past few games I haven't been too happy with what I've seen from Ryan Miller. He hasn't been playing at the Vezina quality we once saw from our Team USA Olympic goaltender. It's really been quite depressing. He's given up soft goals and allowed teams to score on the slightest mistakes that we make. That's not what you want in your goaltender, especially when he has the second highest cap hit on your team.

For that reason I'd say we need to play Enroth more often. The Sabres haven't been doing as well as their fans would like to (myself included). Even if their record was unchanged from where it is now, we've seen them play absolutely horribly. Especially in their losses. And in those cases, Miller just hasn't been there to back up the rest of the team like he used to be.

We've got a capable backup, who can win against the best of them. He stopped 41 of 43 shots (whereas Buffalo took only 26) Thursday night. Let's use him more often. Playing Enroth tends to wake up the team, and he doesn't give up soft goals like Miller often does.

You're probably sitting there right now saying “don't blame Miller for our bad play, it's a team game!” Well you're right. But it's not the fault of the offense: going into Thursday, we have out-shot our opponents by a total of three shots (I know, not much, but it's something). And we've had some great chances that have just been stopped by opposing goaltenders. Many of whom are actually earning a lot less than Miller is right now.

As far as the defense, I can't make excuses for you. You haven't been playing too well, I have to say that for sure. It would be nice to see you guys step up and play a little harder so your goaltenders don't have those odd man rushes coming back at them. Maybe try communicating with your forwards to let them know you're joining the rush so someone can cover for you (strange idea. I know).

But the biggest solution that could save the Buffalo defense: bring back Mike Weber. He may not have been my favorite defenseman when he was on the ice instead of in the press box, but he was a lot better than Andrej Sekera is doing right now. I'm tried of seeing Sekera hold onto the puck for too long and cough it up in his own end when there's no Sabres around, causing a scoring opportunity for the opposition. We need to do something, and just taking him off the ice and sitting him for a while may be what he needs to wake him up.

And playing Enroth may be the only thing that can consistently wake this team up.

~Adam Singh

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