Net Issues

You might think that having the reigning Olympic MVP and Vezina Trophy winner tending goal for you as a dream scenario. Perhaps, for the Sabres, it isn’t.

Now, Ryan Miller has not been bad this season for Buffalo. There is no Vezina/Olympic hangover. He tweaked his knee, or hip, or ankle, or – suffice it to say it was a lower body injury. He missed some time and he certainly wasn’t 100% while trying to play through it.

He has been excellent since returning to the lineup. A handful of key saves against Washington last Saturday and another bunch against Vancouver helped the Sabres steal two thrilling overtime victories. His first period in Washington on Wednesday wasn’t his best effort. However, had Tim Connolly done something to force Jason Chimera behind the Sabres’ net the Capitals second goal probably doesn’t happen. I know it went five-hole, but if Connolly does his job that puck stays below the goal line.

Back to my original point. Having Miller is certainly a luxury. He is capable of playing 65+ games per year. Considering that, you probably wouldn’t want to spend too much on a back-up just to have him rot at the end of the bench. Considering that the Sabres have just 11 wins from goalies not named Ryan Miller over the past three seasons, maybe it is time for a change.

I am not a Jhonas Enrtoh fan. He is too small and doesn’t play a great reactionary game. However, based on his progress this season, he gives the Sabres the best chance to win when Miller needs a rest.

It is a simple fact, the NHL has passed Patrick Lalime by. This guy went on an unbelieveable tear to start his career, he was great in Ottawa but flamed out when he was run out-of-town. Since then, the switch to bulkier, taller pads have not agreed with his game. Lalime is awkward in net and makes every save look difficult. Maybe if he scaled down his gear a little bit he would play better. Maybe his knee injury with St. Louis was what halted any additional development.

The Sabres are now in a pickle. It is clear that everyone in that locker room loves Lalime, especially Miller (see Vezina speech). It is also apparent that Lindy Ruff has little to no confidence in the netminder. I can’t blame him, nearly everytime that Lalime has been inserted he has disappointed.

Now what can the Sabres do? My thought was send Lalime to Portland to play a few games and keep Enrtoh up through November, there is no risk of anyone is going to claim Lalime on waivers.

At least you then have a player who does give you the best chance to win on a night-to-night basis. Well, a better chance to win.

Ultimately, I think the Sabres will sweat it out with him this year and promote Enrtoh in 2011. I also think it would be a brilliant idea to bring him on to work with Jim Corsi so that Miller has his sidekick around for a few more years.

One way or another, Lalime isn’t getting the job done and if the Sabres hope to escape their early season woes, they will need all 23 players to pull their weight.

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