Archive for November, 2011:

Enroth Versus Miller and a Goalie Controversy

I am prepared to eat crow about Ryan Miller… a little bit at least. (That’s ok, I’ve heard it tastes like chicken.) In a previous post I ranted a bit about how great  he is and how quickly the Sabres goalie controversy would be over. Well, the next game our Millsie lets in 5 goals despite getting a win against Winnipeg.

To be completely honest, the post was going to be a “two sides of the story” and present the argument for Miller and then for Enroth. Well, I got lazy plus the post would’ve been too long if I’d done the Enroth part. But there’s a lot to be said for Enroth as well.

The biggest argument in an Enroth vs. Miller debate is that Enroth just wins, baby. Enroth was a stunning 9-2-2 last year. His save percentage was .907 with a goals against of 2.73 – nothing to sneeze at, but nothing stellar. (Ryan Miller’s 2nd worst GAA was a 2.73, in 2006-07.) This year young Jhonas is 4-0-0 with a save percentage of .952 and goals against of 1.41. Absolutely incredible even though it’s only four games.

Meanwhile our Vezina and silver medal-winning Miller is getting lit up and seems to be fighting it. He’s certainly not living up to his Defense Independent Goalie Rating.

But it’s not all his fault; the defense is hanging him out to dry. How many point blank chances did the Sabres give up against the Jets? No goalie can do it by himself.

The big question I have is why does the team seem to play tighter with Enroth in net? Is it simply because they feel they HAVE to, because they think Miller can bail them out if they get sloppy? Because Enroth is a “kid” that they have to be sharp around and protect more?

Miller’s got 5 wins to 5 losses and isn’t doing great statistically. His save percentage of .913 is 29th in the league. His GAA of 2.74 is 37th in the league. Of course you have to factor in goalies that have only played a couple game, but still. It’s bad.

Miller isn’t going to blow up because of the scrutiny on him and go off the rails. He’s been playing hockey his whole life and is having a bad stretch exacerbated by bad defense around him. Lindy Ruff will get things figured out settled down at some point.

But that doesn’t change the fact the RIGHT NOW, Enroth may be the better play. The arguments for him are you can get the kid some work, Miller is off his game, and the team just plays better around him. Maybe there’s something to Enroth’s personality that the team takes to better, I don’t know.  (But what would explain the team’s success over the last 7 years with Miller?). Plus apparently he looks like an ewok:

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I don't see the resemblence, but I'll leave it for the ladies to decide.

Goalie controversy? Sure. Miller can certainly regain his form, but the backup is always the most popular guy in town. The talk will continue until Enroth falters badly or Miller is insanely dominant. That might be a while.

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On the Rick Jeanneret and Hawerchuk HoF Induction

What an amazing induction to the Sabres Hall of Fame for RJ and Hawerchuk. Hawerchuk was always one of my favorites, but I think my fondest memories of him are for how good he was in NHL ’93 and ’94. Sad? But true.

Who didn’t tear up just a little for Rick Jeanneret’s video clip and speech? How lucky have we been to have him? I think more than any one person he is the franchise. It will be sad when he retires, but we need to count our blessings as fans.

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Best idea for a Hall of Fame induction ever.

Watching the clip of RJs calls was awesome, but the Steve Shields fight made me realize something: we have the rootenest, tootenist, fightingest goalies ever. Check it: Steve Shields vs. Sean Burke, Steve Shields vs. Garth Snow and then Marty Biron vs. Ray Emery. I know goalie fights are very infrequent and while I can’t find a stat, it seems like we’ve had the most out of all teams. Might be a good way to determine our Goalie Controversy: see who’s the better fighter. My money’s on Enroth.

The shots of Jeanneret’s family were sweet. His Mom at 91 cheering for him and kind of dancing was awesome. Also cool that the whole Jeanneret  family wore white jerseys with the number 40 on them – for the 40 years of calling games. I couldn’t figure out what the “PxP” stood for though  –  @slackin pointed out to me it was for “Play by Play”, duh! And the hand-crafted real steel sabres that Hawerchuk and RJ got, combined with the display of crossing the swords? A simple idea yet brilliant.

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Last but not least is the new Book of RJ shirt that Hockey Heaven came out with. Today only they’re putting it on sale for $15. I know, they’re a sponsor and yes I am panning for them. But I’m proud to do so, as we loved Hockey Heaven before they were a sponsor will continue to pimp them even after they are (well, hopefully they stay a sponsor forever!). Heck, I’m a proud owner of one of these myself. How better to honor the voice of the organization? This shirt is good… scary good.  

Thanks to Rick for all the work over the years, all the laughs and all the memories. Hopefully there will still be many more to come!

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Dale Hawerchuk & Rick Jeanneret Sabres Hall Of Fame Induction (Video)

In case you missed it:

Congratulations to Dale and Rick on their long-due inductions. And fans, remember to soak up every call by RJ this season.

RJ 300x250 Dale Hawerchuk & Rick Jeanneret Sabres Hall Of Fame Induction (Video)buffalosabresnation.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/RJ.jpg 320w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />

Every call.

Go Sabres.

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Ryan Miller Is The [Expletive] Man

Well, it just wouldn’t be sports in Buffalo if some intrigue wasn’t involved. Here the Bills are doing well (aside from that horrid thumping at the hands of the NY Jets), the Sabres have an 8-5 record, are even winning at home, and we have… dun dun dunnnnn …. GOALIE CONTROVERSY. And yes, I’m aware how long that last sentence was. It’s not quite the Bickering Bills of ’89 or Johnson vs. Flutie, but it’s still entertaining.

A bit of a recap may be required here: Ryan Miller gets yanked after letting in three quick goals against Philly on November 2nd. Young Jhonas Enroth stopgaps a shutout the rest of the way. Lindy Ruff plays the hot hand against the Sabres next two opponents and Enroth gets two wins, only letting in three goals total in those games. Last but certainly not least is Ryan Miller’s attitude when talking to the press.

After practice on November 7th, Miller said:

“I’m here to win. That’s the emotion you get from me. If I’m discouraged, if I’m [ticked] off, that’s just how it is. I want to win. I don’t want to be out there getting scored on. I don’t want to be pulled out of a game. I want to, you know, I want to [expletive] win the game.” (Full notes from TBN here)

Many people are pissed off about this quote but I don’t get it. Nor do I get the vitriol thrown his way. So allow me to rant about him for a bit.

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Can you think of a better guy to have between the pipes in this situation? Well, *besides* the Dominator.

WHY MILLER IS AWESOME

He’s Ryan-freaking-Miller, the face of the team for well near a decade. Most teams would kill for a goalie half as good as Miller. He practices non-stop, sharpening his reflexes every chance he gets and is in top physical shape.

He has all the accolades too: a silver medal, a Vezina, MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics, over the last five seasons has gotten over 34 wins a year … and he smells like mint julep. (Well, ok, due to the restraining order, I’ve not been able to get close enough to verify this.)

Sure, he’s going to have a stretch of bad games every once in a while – chill people. Even the greatest goalies ever have have rough patches. Hall of Famer Patrick Roy let in nine goals in 1995 in Montreal. He pretty much demanded a trade and went on a win a Stanley Cup the next year. Martin Brodeur has been pulled from games. You think of a great goalie, he’s been pulled at some point in his career. It happens.

The thing about Miller is he’s a professional and knows how to forget bad games. He moves on and is in the moment when it comes time for him to make saves. He does his best each game and that’s the mark of a great goaltender.

That quote, what he said earlier today, heartens me.  It validates how good of a goalie he is. I LIKE that he’s pissed. I LIKE that he’s cussing. I want to see that fight, that heart, that piss and vinegar. He wants to be the guy, for the team to put it all on his shoulders and he’s ready for any challenge.

Now, I like Jhonas Enroth, he’s great. He’s a young guy and he’s an NHL backup. We have no idea how he’d do full-time. The other night against Ottawa his flaws were exposed, if only a little bit; he’s not as strong in one on one situations as Miller is.

Perhaps we should step back and think about just how lucky we are to have great goaltending and even be having this conversation/argument. But I guarantee you that in a few weeks this will all be water under the bridge. (*Guarantee void in all continental U.S. States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the Netherlands and wherever gravity is 9.80665 m/s2.)

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Buffalo Sabres vs. Ottawa Senators Game Notes

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This wasn’t a complete game by either team, but for stretches it was one of the most entertaining of the year for the Sabres. Derek Roy’s shootout goal gave the Sabres the 3-2 victory.

Now just some quick hits of thoughts about the game.

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Gerbe doing his honey badger thing and creating the play that led to a goal. TENACIOUS G!

———–

I’d heard earlier in the day that Miller was getting the start, then about 15 minutes before game time Enroth got the nod.  Not sure if this was planned or Ruff was just going with the hot hand here.

A group of about 15 or 20 Sabres fans in Buffalo hats with horns were at the game. Think they just showed up randomly like that?  Also, how cool would it be if we had thousands of fans at FN Center with those things? You can get your own here.

Eric Karlsson has a gorgeous mullet that Patrick Kane should be jealous of. Not sure which is better, his mullet or the Zubaz that Gerbe and McCormick were sporting during their trip to the hospital that showed during intermission.

Speaking of sweet hair, Sens’ coach Paul MacLean has a monster walrus ‘stache. And does remind one of Zoidberg.   As @brianbund’s wife pointed out, Lindy Ruff’s mustache is nowhere near as noticable.  Two different men with two very different staches. I want to see an NHL coach mustache competition.

I am much more leery about breakaway / 1 on 1 situations with Enroth than with Miller. With Miller in net I have no worries for that, but more worry lately on the easy goals. Enroth stops the easy ones but isn’t as skilled with 1 on 1’s.

Maybe it was just me, but it didn’t seem like there was a lot of Sens apparel in the arena. As  @ScottyMCSS said, there was a guy in the front row wearing a Billabong shirt. Are you a fan of either team? If so, why not show it? If you like another team that’s not playing, wear stuff from that team. Show your loyalty, dammit!

Early on, we still looked horrible at giving away shorthanded chances. Meh.

Rick Jeanneret is an amazing personality with a unique voice and we love him – but I really had no problem with Kevin Sylvester as play-by-play guy and Danny Gare as color.

I did sort of miss Rob Ray’s interjections. Sometimes he’s thought of as a goonish athlete and RJ has even ripped on him, but he often provides nuggets that make you think. He’s not polished at communications, but that endears him to me. Kind of like a puppy behind the glass. He’s really cute and makes you smile sometimes.

Gragnani may not be nearly as NHL-ready as we’d thought after last year’s playoffs. A good reminder to really think about the sample size we had to go on.

Gerbe is so awesome that I think he’s got the most hockey talent per cubic inch. That goal he created was all about his tenacity. I saw @JoeBuffaloWins call him Taz and I loved it. Add that to the growing nickname list for Gerbs.

Man, Regehr can HIT. Nice to see him smash a couple of guys with perfect timing. How come he didn’t get the Carubba Collision? I thought his were more devastating, but the one they chose had two guys performing a double smack and looked better on the surface. #RegehrSmash

Derek Roy is looking great and perhaps close to back to 100%. He stole the puck away several times and controlled it for quite a while with some slick moves.

The Leino/Roy/Stafford line is looking good, with Leino creating some nice chances.

Win or lose, the shootout is THE most exciting part of a hockey game. However it still seems a little unfair to me that it can decide who gets a point. It takes away the team aspect. If we win, I’m ok with it but if we lose, I’m bitching. I’m guess I’m ok with it so long as it never makes it into playoff hockey.

This game is going to do very little to douse the flames of the Miller versus Enroth controversy by some of the Sabres faithful. Me, I think Enroth is fine … for a BACKUP. He’s still nowhere close to Millsie. That much was evident on breakaways and during the shootout, although Enroth *did* get better as the shootout went on.

That’s it and that’s all. (The whistles go whoo-whoo.) Any thoughts as to this format? Something we should continue? Did it make you chuckle, chortle or interested at all? Please comment below and let us know whether it should be continued.

 

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