On the laundry list of issues the Buffalo Sabres are facing, goaltending ranks relatively low. A slow roster with some problematic contracts all while dropping from first to worst (technically 27th as of today) has far bigger issues to address than goaltender.
Although it may rank low on the larger list of issues facing Jason Botterill and company, it is indeed a problem area that is in need of improvement moving forward.
Improved goaltending wouldn’t be the silver bullet needed to get the Sabres into a playoff position. It wouldn’t even get them into the race at this point, which speaks to the myriad issues with the roster at the moment. But their goaltending has indeed cost them points in the standings, enough to, at the very least, pull them from the doldrums of the league basement and into a more respectable standing.
Chad Johnson and Robin Lehner have combined to allow three or more goals in over half of Buffalo’s games this season and four or more goals have been allowed 22 times. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the vast majority of each goaltender’s wins have come in games where they allow two or fewer goals while the vast majority of losses come when three or more goals are conceded. What has been a problem is a lack of consistency from both, and a propensity to negate rare strong offensive performances from the league’s lowest scoring team. Continue reading →
I’m a big fan of Drew Magary’s weekly Funbag over at Deadspin. While I’m hardly the writer Drew is, I wanted to try to emulate his weekly feature here at Two in the Box. So on a weekly basis the Two in the Mailbox mailbag will hit on Sabres topics and anything else you might want to discuss. All questions are welcome. Goalie stuff, hockey equipment, Buffalo development, quantum physics (don’t ask quantum physics questions), I’ll take questions on anything and everything. The more the merrier.
You can submit questions via Twitter using #2ITBmailbag or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Continue reading →
On this week’s episode we cover the fallout of the Jack Eichel and CJ Smith injuries, touch on Alex Nylander’s stalling development and offer up a brief Olympic prediction. We also focus on the rumored links between the Sabres and Flyers and exactly how a deal between the two might come to fruition.
It’s been three games and there are plenty of questions about Buffalo’s goaltenders. So I reached out to Greg Balloch of In Goal Magazine to talk about Robin Lehner’s shootout struggles and more. Greg gives incredible insight to the strong and weak points of Lehner’s game, where he sees Lehner taking the Sabres and even offers up some thoughts on Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen. Greg also went deep into effective and ineffective goaltending statistics, providing a better way to look at goaltenders at the NHL level.
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 →
Sabres Development Camp wrapped up with the French Connection Tournament yesterday and in the wake of another mid-summer peek at Buffalo’s prospect pipeline, Chris and Tyler share their thoughts on who stood out from the crowd over the weekend. In addition, we offer up some thoughts on the contract status of Robin Lehner, Sam Reinhart and Jack Eichel. Although we don’t spend very much time on #15.
With the Cup Final complete, Jason Botterill has serious business to attend to. Naming a new head coach for Buffalo and Rochester are just two of the items. In recent days, Evander Kane and Robin Lehner have found their names in the rumor mill while nearly every team in the league are working to solve their respective expansion challenges. We take a look at what options are available to Botterill via trade and which options seem more and less realistic with just days left until the deadline for expansion.
A somewhat surprising name was tossed into the rumor mill this week after Bob McKenzie noted that Robin Lehner could very well be shopped by the Sabres this summer.
McKenzie noted that the Lehner’s arbitration rights and the potential to score a richer deal than Jason Botterill and the Sabres would be willing to offer being the two primary factors in shopping the netminder. He added that Botterill may not be sold on Lehner as a number one goaltender just yet. While that’s somewhat contradictory to what Botterill told Elliotte Friedman a couple weeks back, it isn’t too hard to read between the lines on what Botterill said.
The idea of shopping Lehner is a curious one. He finally got over the hump of playing a full season and replicated the strong numbers we saw in limited action during 2015-16, erasing some of the lingering questions about his durability and capability to fill the role as a number one. His season was far from perfect but given Buffalo’s depth at the position and Lehner’s fairly strong play, creating a hole on the roster doesn’t seem like a prudent decision.
Lehner’s arbitration status may be the biggest red flag in all of this as the idea of forking over $4m or more isn’t very palatable in my view. Even considering the strides he’s taken over the past season-and-a-half, I’m not sure forking over a long term, big money contract to Lehner is the answer this season. His resume is still too incomplete to justify a big contract nor is it so barren that he should be walked away from either. It’s a bit of a predicament that seems best solved by kicking the can down the road a bit with a short bridge deal. Simply walking away from him leaves the Sabres with a glaring hole where they don’t need to create one. Continue reading →
Back for another episode, Chris and Tyler pour over recent rumors that Robin Lehner may have been shopped after his meltdown in Toronto while also debating the thought process of trying to compare players team-to-team. We argue that the Sabres need to be judged based on their results, not the results of another club or another player.
We think this is a topic that’s getting badly misinterpreted by the fanbase, if you agree, disagree or simply think we’re complete dopes, please let us know.
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With a trifecta of impressive wins under their belt – and another near miss – the Sabres are creating some believers in Western New York. While there’s still work to do, it appears the rest of the team has caught up to the impressive play in goal. Chris and Tyler discuss the goaltending debate despite the lack of an actual goalie controversy while also highlighting the impressive play of Evander Kane, Sam Reinhart and Kyle Okposo, among others. Be sure to listen in here or grab the episode on your mobile device and listen on the go.