Sabres Goaltending Pipeline Needs a Boost

It may seem odd that a team so badly in need of help in goal would opt to trade away one of the few goaltenders they had left. But that’s exactly what the Sabres did in dealing Jonas Johansson to Colorado last week.

Things got dicey for the Sabres in the wake of that decision as Carter Hutton went down with a friendly fire injury just two days later. Of course, that’s the sort of season the Sabres are having. Fairly innocuous decisions turn into catastrophes in the blink of an eye.

In the big picture, of course, not having Johansson to rotate in with Hutton, even in the wake of his injury is practically irrelevant. Johansson recorded a singular win for the Sabres over the course of 13 appearances and both this year and last, sported a save percentage under .900. The difference between what he and Dustin Tokarski are capable of providing is minimal.  

The stark reality for the Sabres is that without Linus Ullmark in net, their chances at victory are slim. Carter Hutton has failed to regain the form that earned him his contract, Johansson didn’t display enough pro traits and Tokarski has looked very much like a goalie who hasn’t seen an NHL game in four years. If it isn’t Ullmark between the pipes, it really makes no difference who is playing in his place these days.

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The Instigator Podcast 9.6 – Questions in Net Loom for the Sabres

The Sabres are in a tough spot after Carter Hutton left Tuesday’s game after a collision and Linus Ullmark has missed the last two games due to personal reasons. In a season with a compact schedule, the Sabres are suddenly facing a situation where Jonas Johnasson may see some serious action. We discuss the issues in net for the Sabres and how their inability to address the position in the offseason put them in this predicament. We also discuss some of the reasons for optimism despite the 1-3 record the Sabres are sporting after their first week of action.

The Instigator Podcast is supported by Manscaped. You can get 20% off and free shipping by using the code 2ITB at www.manscaped.com.

Sabres Goaltending Depth Chart Aided by Taxi Squad

Under normal circumstances the Sabres goaltending depth chart would have been difficult to navigate this year. Prior to the confirmation that teams would be operating with a taxi squad it was looking like it could be a problem.

While Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark are effectively locked in as the top two goalies, finding appropriate playing time for Jonas Johansson, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Dustin Tokarski was going to require creativity. In a typical regular season the Sabres would have the ability to split their minor league goaltenders between Rochester and Cincinnati, easing the burden on the Amerks’ coaching staff to get the right players enough playing time. With Cincinnati not participating this season, the potential for a three-headed monster in the Rochester crease could have been cause for concern.

Aside from finding the right tandem in Buffalo to give the Sabres the best opportunity to end their playoff drought, the most important task with Buffalo’s goaltenders is the development of Luukkonen. It seems unlikely that he would have been destined for Cincinnati given the strides he took last year, though the Cyclones would have been a vital relief valve for the organization to utilize to prevent any one goalie from sitting too long. Continue reading

Sabres Feature Sharp Masks for 2017-18

The Sabres are back and with a new hockey season comes new hope, new expectations and, most importantly, new goalie equipment.

Every goalie in the Sabres system has a new-ish look for the season and while this lineup certainly isn’t the most impressive collection of masks and gear the team has ever seen, there are still a few solid set ups throughout the pipeline.

None is better than Robin Lehner’s phenomenal Brian’s OPT1K set. Known for unparalleled customization, Brian’s and Lehner cooked up a terrific blend of stock and custom team-logo graphics. I’m not always a fan of the fully custom team logo sets Brian’s creates, but the Sabre on each piece of Lehner’s set is understated enough that you have to look hard to find it.

Chad Johnson is really the only other worthwhile set up to speak of. He is sporting a clean Ventus set that is a little less colorful than the Ventus gear Lehner wore last season. The Ventus graphics are attractive and work nicely with the Sabres colors.

Other than the two goalies with the big club, Buffalo’s other netminders all sport very basic blue and white sets which won’t clash with the Amerks uniforms but don’t stand out much either. Where there is plenty of variety is in the mask department. Continue reading

The Instigator Podcast 6.1 – Giorgio, Cal, Sami and Sabres Coaches, Oh My

Back for another season of takes, Chris and Tyler kick off season six with much of the same from the end of season five. The defenseman market has shifted since the end of the Conference Finals and due to potential moves out of Vegas. Meanwhile the Sabres have signed Jonas Johnasson, have fewer than 24 hours to ink Giorgio Estephan and now know Cal Petersen will play professionally next season. All the while Jason Botterill is hammering out his list of candidates for the head coaching job.