You can’t say enough about Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen over his last two games, but let’s not jump on the bandwagon yet.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been nothing short of sensational, and he proved he can put up some epic numbers over the previous two games. Even over his last four appearances, Luukkonen is boasting a 0.926 save percentage, a 2.60 GAA, and a 0.667 quality starts percentage this season amidst a 3-1-0 record.
That’s all good, but it’s also important to remember just how great Luukkonen was for a stretch there in 2022-23. Between December 4th and January 28th last season, Luukkonen went 12-3-1, allowing four or more goals just three times, and he boasted a save percentage of 0.909 or better in eight of those contests.
After that epic stretch, Luukkonen did little to impress us between February 1st and his final appearance on April 1st. In his final 11 starts, Luukkonen allowed four or more goals and posted a save percentage below 0.900 eight times. He let seven goals through in two games, and finished the stretch with a record of 4-6-2.
Buffalo Sabres fans must be cautiously optimistic about Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
This isn’t to say Luukkonen will repeat those struggles from last season, but it does show that we can’t be all-in on the 24-year-old goaltender just yet. In fact, since Luukkonen showed us roughly two months of consistency and another two months of inconsistency, forgive me when I say that I’ll be sold on him if he’s still putting up sound performances on most nights come the end of February.
If he’s at least splitting starts with Devon Levi by that point either as the 1A or the 1B, then Luukkonen deserves a benefit of the doubt when the Buffalo Sabres are hopefully playing meaningful games in the season’s final month-and-a-half. Until then, it’s okay to be optimistic, but it’s best to exercise some caution here as we know how inconsistent Luukkonen can be.
That said, he’s shown us a few good things already – he can bounce back from a couple of bad periods, which occurred when he allowed three goals in the loss to the New Jersey Devils, even if the overall game wasn’t on him thanks to how badly the Sabres were defensively. He also showed that yes, he can make plenty of big saves, something that was on full display over the past two contests, so let’s see if he can keep the arrow pointing north.
(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)