I’ve taken a while to formulate my thoughts before weighing in on:
For four seasons, the Buffalo Sabres have been without a strong backup goaltender. Lindy Ruff has cycled through four secondary goalies since Martin Biron was traded to Philadelphia. Let’s take a look back at them.
- Ty Conklin played 5 games as a Sabre. One win, two losses, and two in relief of Ryan Miller. Also he has since grown an epic beard.
- Jocelyn Thibault took the ice for a whopping 12 games and managed to get 8 points for the club.
- Anyone remember that Mikael Tellqvist was a Sabre? He was. Seriously. He played in 6 games in 2008-09, and he even won 2 of them.
- Patrick Lalime finally looked like a solution back in 2008 when he beat the New York Islanders in his first start. I remember analysts saying that Buffalo finally had a solid backup. He played 24 games that season, the first time a backup played more than 20 games since Marty Biron in 2005-06 (35 games). Unfortunately, Lindy Ruff lost confidence in the veteran, cutting him to 16 games the next year and 7 last season.
What’s strange about it is I don’t know how many of these guys were bad goalies. We constantly hear criticism of Lindy Ruff that he didn’t play Lalime often enough, or that a backup needs to be warmed up and get in to a rhythm of playing. Riding Ryan Miller for 70 games is not only a recipe for disaster for him, but also for the hope that a backup can come in and play lights out.
Here’s the trick. The Sabres have been dealing with backups that were at the end of their careers.
Now Jhonas Enroth has burst on to the scene, and he’s got Miller staring at a record of 4-0-0, a 1.41 GAA, and a .952 save percentage. And lo, there was rejoicing. Oh wait, this is Buffalo. I mistook the rejoicing for people yelling, “GOALIE CONTROVERSY!” and then the wise sages among the crowd holding their hands out the calm the masses and stating, “Relax. There is no goalie controversy.” Then when Lindy Ruff started Enroth for both games on back-to-back nights, everybody went, “HOLY CRAP THERE’S A CONTROVERSY!” and everybody else said, “It’s just a situation. It’s okay, we’re all okay. Miller’s okay. It’s cool.”
I love it.
This team has two really good goaltenders. Now when Ryan Miller is in a slump, as he has been every year, as every player goes in to a slump every year, it doesn’t mean this team is going to lose a lot of games in a row. Miller has alluded to perhaps there being some sort of personal issue, mainly by stating that there is no issue. He’s said that whatever’s going on is his problem, that it doesn’t need to be shared. Fine. Cool. Deal with it and come back more like yourself.
In the meantime, the tiny wonder is shutting the door.
The last time we had two really good goaltenders in this town, Ryan Miller took the starting job from Martin Biron. BUT (this is why I am in a great mood about it all) Biron did not go down without putting on an awesome show. From 2005 to when he was traded in 2007, Marty played 54 games and went 33-12-4 (some were relief). I believe the situation is similar here, and with Miller considerably younger than Biron was, you’re going to see him harden up in the next couple of months. Honestly, I think Enroth starting to look like he might threaten #30′s job might be the best thing to happen to Miller. Give him that competitive edge back.
Now there has been a lot of word that Miller’s been upset. Do yourself a favor and do two things: don’t read in to anything he says, and realize that he’s probably most upset with himself.
First off, when someone says something and you infer a different meaning than the words themselves hold, you are projecting your thoughts through the person’s mouth. It is very rarely accurate, so try not to read in to Miller’s words to find a deeper meaning. This advice is also applicable to relationships, so you get that for free.
Second, Miller has always stayed longer and worked harder, and he’s always pushed himself. Now we might have gone through that tough time in the movie where the star gets carried away with himself, but now that the kid has gotten the nod over him in the back-to-back situation, I think Millsie’s going to be going through a salt-of-the-earth Rocky training montage.
In short, I’m not going to say there’s a goalie controversy. I’m also not going to say there isn’t one. I don’t particularly care, because as my profile says in the About Us section (and by god, I stick to what that says) I want to see this team win, and if they have to break hearts to do it then so be it. If my favorite player gets traded, if they sign someone I can’t stand, or if the goaltender situation explodes, I will not care so long as it results in this team hoisting the Cup.
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Topics: Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres, Eastern Conference, Fansided, Free Agency, Hockey, Jhonas Enroth, Jocelyn Thibault, Lindy Ruff, Mikael Tellqvist, New York Rangers, NHL, Northeast Division, Ottawa Senators, Patrick Lalime, Playoffs, Ryan Miller, Sabres, Stanley Cup, Terry Pegula, Trade, Trade Deadline, Ty Conklin