Enroth Vs. Miller: Sabreland gets Silly

It never fails.

Be it a starting goaltender in the NHL, or a starting QB in the NFL, as soon as an injury forces a backup into the spotlight, a silly controversy amid the fan base begins.

“Who starts when the starter comes back?”

The starter starts.  That’s why they call him the starter.

Snarky generalizations aside, let us examine in detail the current silly match-up of Enroth vs. Miller.  Heck, we have plenty of time this afternoon before the Tampa game anyway, so let’s use that time productively to stomp on this annoying little conversational bug.

In the Dramatic Hair category, Enroth is our starter, hands-down.

Enroth’s success story is a joyous one, and equally impressive in stats: 2-0-1 with a .936 save percentage since Miller went down with an upper body injury.  That is phenominal clutch play, at the time when the team needed it the most.  Nothing in the standings is guaranteed yet, but Enroth backstopped the Sabres into a very strong position to actually make the playoffs.

Still, he’s been the backbone for only three games, sports fans.  Miller has carried the team all year long, including the great bulk of work amid the amazing comeback story from when the Sabres were 10 points out and  sitting in 12th place in December.

You don't earn starting rights in this jersey because of three good games.

Let’s not pretend to forget the fact that Miller has a tremendous amount of playoff experience, not to mention Olympic experience.  It wasn’t long ago that Miller was earning MVP honors in that tournament featuring the greatest assembly of players in the hockey world.  He earned that on a Silver Medal team.  You don’t get more “clutch” than that – it’s akin to stealing the Conn Smythe trophy as a member of the losing team in the Cup Finals.

Meanwhile, Enroth was toiling away in Portland, in the AHL.  His numbers there are far from stunning.  Not to take away from Jhonas – I love the guy as much as any other fan, but I also have been tracking him for years.  Bear with me, and look at the big picture:

The debate should end right here – a 20-17-2 record in the AHL does not scream “start this guy now!” in the NHL playoffs.  (Hats off to David “Leggo’ My Eggo” Leggio of Williamsville for stealing the statistical limelight this season, by the way.)

As for that Lightning game tonight, we’ll be seeing Enroth between the pipes again.  If you are so breathlessly convinced that you must see Enroth in action for the Sabres, then you better not miss this game – it just might be his last in the NHL for a long time.  Miller looks to be ready to go before the regular season is up.

“There isn’t any doubt that Ryan is the No. 1.”

That quote comes directly from Lindy Ruff, addressing the goaltending battle – as if he needed to.

If the Sabres make the playoffs, remember that it will be upon the season’s work of Ryan Miller that they do.  A few games from Enroth sure do help, but a few games do not a season make.

The Sabres have a prolific offense, and with Ryan Miller between the pipes, present themselves as a major problem to any higher seed that they face.  It’s a team that is empowered by the push and the ability to upset the top teams, one that will worry opposing coaches and players before every puck drop.  Take that same Sabres team, and insert a rookie netminder, and suddenly those same opponents are chomping at the bit to tear the Sabres apart.

Case closed, folks.

Let’s leave the silliness behind us and just enjoy Enroth’s courageous stand.

Go Sabres.

UPDATE: There is actually a poll on Facebook, if you’re feeling silly enough to vote in it. It’s gathered up only 54 voters so far.

Meanwhile, it does seem like the debate is distracting enough for Lindy Ruff to actually engage a live radio audience over the topic:

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About scottymcss

Homeschooler. Freelancer.
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3 Responses to Enroth Vs. Miller: Sabreland gets Silly

  1. Andrew Michalak says:

    One of the Sabres best statistical seasons with Miller included a 13 game win streak posted by Marty Biron while Miller was out with injury. Great results by the second “minder”, but that is what one hopes to expect IF the second guy is called. Miller is THE GUY.
    But, WINNING is the game.

  2. Mike says:

    You’ll get no argument from me that Miller is the number one guy. I still don’t think that he’s playing nearly as capably as he’s capable of.

    The Sabres current position is a reflection of how Miller has played all year: 7th-8th place. I realize it’s a little unfair to pin that all on Miller when the D went through such changes, but if he had played better it would have helped. Take the last three games against the Leafs, for instance. Miller vs. the Leafs used to be completely locked down victory. And now? I think you can make the argument that if Miller had played better, the Sabres could have definitely won those games. And that’s really all the difference between 7-8th place and say 4-5th place.

    I understand that Enroth’s AHL numbers were mediocre themselves, but I think that it might be the same phenomenon we mention more in connection with Zack Kassian. As Peter Gibbons says in Office Space, “It’s a question of motivation.” Zack Kassian has taken shifts off in the OHL because he’s bored with his level of competition. Similarly, if Enroth plays out of his mind in the AHL what happens? Does he become the Sabres number one goaltender? No. The Sabres still have Ryan Miller. So he’ll play just well enough to earn a call up. And then he’ll show the Sabres what he can do, which is exactly what he’s done. He knows it’s his time. He wants to make the Sabres at least think that he can maybe be the number one goalie at some point. Enroth came out a few years ago and said that he wanted Miller’s job. Good for him. Goalies are competitive, and something tells me that Ryan Miller likes Lalime so much because he isn’t a threat. Let there be a healthy goalie competition. Miller is still number one in our hearts and minds, but Enroth is strong number two, and if Miller doesn’t have his very best stuff, there’s no reason that Enroth shouldn’t play instead.

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