Kukla's Korner Hockey
by @DaveDavisHockey on 11/08/10 at 11:17 PM ET
In the Buffalo Sabres locker room, Patrick Lalime is looked up to as someone who is revered, admired, respected, and almost any other positive adjective you can come up with. That is, except for a pretty important one - successful.
Which is why it was somewhat surprising that so many people were questioning the decision, with Ryan Miller injured, to throw highly touted goaltending prospect Jhonas Enroth into the fire for this past Wednesday’s game against the Boston Bruins.
You can’t argue that the 2006 2nd round draft pick stunk up the joint that night. But what followed in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout win in Toronto - featuring Enroth stopping ex-Sabre Clarke MacArthur on a breakaway and stoning 4 of 5 Leafs in the shootout - was closer to what coach Lindy Ruff and GM Darcy Regier had envisioned for the 22-year old Swede, albeit a few days later than they would’ve liked.
What’s really comical about the criticism of playing Enroth is that many of these people are the same revisionist historians who bashed the Sabres for sending him down to the AHL in favor of Lalime in the first place.
Despite commentary to the contrary, the decision to give Enroth some game action in a super critical week without the franchise goaltender was not a panic move. The Sabres needed a home run, and Ruff and Regier weren’t afraid to swing for the fences hoping to hit a Bobrovsky.
In reality, the panic move would’ve been to play it safe with the veteran backup Lalime. You know, go with the known commodity - oh, and lest we forget the same guy who is 9-24-5 wearing a Sabres uniform.
On a team seemingly so fragile emotionally, something unforeseen like the discovery of a hot new goaltending talent to help win a few games would be a big story and a huge lift. You can’t blame Ruff for rolling the dice hoping for a potent shot of positivity. Imagine the buzz if Wednesday never happened and what we saw Saturday was our first glimpse of Enroth this season.
“This was a really big game for me,” Enroth said. “Hopefully, I can build my season off this and try to keep the same level. I’ve never doubted myself. I had a tough game that last game. I’m not going to lie about it, but I know what I can do.”
“I don’t know when I’m going to play next, and I don’t know if I’m going to get a shot to win a game, so I just really tried to pull it together and come up with a few saves.”
When Miller returns, probably sometime this week, Enroth will likely head back to Portland, where he’ll be better served as a full time starter as opposed to playing only 15 games with the big club.
Obviously Buffalo is an instantly depleted team without its star goaltender. But if Miller does suffer another injury, at least it will be fun watching the Sabres roll the dice with their young prospect again.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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