Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has had an up and down career with the Buffalo Sabres. Coming into this season, it seemed like it was going to be a prove it year for UPL. After having a strong start in the first part of last year, it went downhill because of his struggles. Fast-forward to this year, he once again was excellent for the first couple of months.
In 26 games played, he is 12-11-2 with a goals against average of 2.61 and a .909 save percentage with three shutouts. It begs the question, will this be the year Ukko puts together a complete season? I took to social media asking fans the exact question. There were some pretty positive answers and a couple of negative ones but here are some of those.
"I think he will finish with a decent record he did play somewhat decently In the second half last season. 17-11-4 in 33 gp."-Marcus McArthur (Facebook)
If the Sabres hope to get themselves back in the playoff race, UPL will most likely have to have the record Marcus said. Even though his win/loss record is almost average, it doesn't do justice for how good he's been for Buffalo this year.
He has definitely turned a corner this season. He has given the team chances to win multiple nights, despite the losses. What sticks out to me are the shutouts. UPL has never registered a shutout in his career before this season, so it is pretty noteworthy. Hopefully he can get some more shutouts in the second half.
I don't agree with this take. First, let's not compare him to other goalies until Buffalo actually goes to the postseason. While he doesn't have the best awareness, you can't deny he's been one of the reasons why this team is winning games. It's not fair to compare him to other goalies until he actually plays in a big spot like the playoffs.
"He has to be our #1 for the rest of the season. I have faith in him."-Kenny Boyle (Facebook)
Kenny nailed it. He is the hot hand right now and has been for a while. Luukkonen has earned the right to be the main guy for the Sabres. His play backs it up, so you can't argue that he doesn't deserve to be the starter. i also have faith in him, let's hope he proves us right for the final few months of the season.
There were other answers left out, but they were all pretty much positive ones. "Yes", "Absolutely", etc. In my opinion, I think this will be the year he has a strong second half. When you're a developing player, it takes a few years to put up a strong season all year.
He will learn from his mistakes. Whether Buffalo makes the playoffs or not, UPL will finish off strong.