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SYLVESTER'S BLOG: GOALTENDING

Tuesday, 09.22.2009 / 10:23 AM / Blogs - Kevin Sylvester
By Kevin Sylvester  - Sabres "Hockey Hotline" Host
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SYLVESTER\'S BLOG: GOALTENDING
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Many fans are asking me what I think the Sabres will do this year?  My answer has been consistent. 

If the goaltending lives up to its potential, then they’ll make the playoffs. 

I say goaltending because it’s not all on Ryan Miller’s shoulders. Sure he’s the key player for the franchise and one of the top goalies in the Eastern Conference, but he and the team need Patrick Lalime to stand tall this year.

Monday night’s win in Washington was a great sign for the season. Lalime went the distance in the 2-1 victory over the Capitals turning aside 19 of 20 shots. 

Before you say it was a just a preseason game, look at Washington’s lineup. Alexander Ovechkin made his preseason debut and recorded five shots on net.  Nicklas Backstrom was also on the ice with Mike Green, Alexander Semin and Mike Knuble. 

That’s not exactly a list of rookies and journeymen trying to make the fourth line. Lindy Ruff is going to need efforts like last night’s out of Lalime this season, and more often.

The schedule is condensed due to the Olympics, and Ryan Miller will be headed to Vancouver for Team USA. It’s not just after the Olympics for Lalime.  He should see action early in the season too. 

The end of October starts a five-week stretch that has three games in four nights each of those weekends for the Sabres.  Novembers ends with four games in six nights.

December’s schedule is downright ridiculous (every team has to deal with it) with 15 games in 27 nights. Breaking the month down further, there are 12 games in the first 21 days of December before two days off for Christmas. 

After the New Year, the Sabres have eight sets of three games in four nights.  Game three is usually a dog and coaches have little time for a good practice to work on system breakdowns. That’s why goaltending will be the key (when isn’t it), and Lalime will have to be on his game more often. 

My guess is 20 games this year, and let’s hope many resemble last night’s win in Washington.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Hodgson 72 20 24 -26 44
T. Ennis 80 21 22 -25 43
D. Stafford 70 16 18 -19 34
C. Ehrhoff 79 6 27 -27 33
C. Stewart 63 15 11 0 26
C. Conacher 79 7 19 1 26
T. Myers 62 9 13 -26 22
Z. Girgensons 70 8 14 -6 22
M. Foligno 74 7 12 -17 19
J. McBain 69 6 11 -13 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
M. Neuvirth 4 8 2 .921 2.78
J. Enroth 4 17 5 .911 2.82