Jhonas Enroth is a part of the Buffalo Sabres lineup, but he’s more likely to be seen on the bench wearing the ball cap and doing door duty while Ryan Miller carries most of the Sabres’ water between the pipes. For example, he played just 26 games last season and only 14 of them in the 2010-11 season. So far in this lockout-shortened campaign, Enroth has been between the pipes just five times, including last night’s game against the New York Rangers.
That was a game to remember for Enroth. In getting the 3-1 decision against the intra-state team, he won the game and notched his first win since Nov. 26, 2011. That’s not a typo–he’d lost the two other games this season where he was the goaltender of record to go along with dropping 11 decisions last year following that late November victory.
He denied all 10 shots in the first period before allowing Derek Stepan to score shorthanded early in the second, but then turned it around and stopped everything else that came his way, racking up a .970 save percentage on 33 shots faced. Thus, he earned his first win in more than a year.
Look at it this way. Since November 2011, there have been quite a few changes: the 2012 “apocalypse” came and went without so much as a peep, the lockout happened (Enroth played in his native Sweden during the work stoppage), the Ryan Suter and Zach Parise signings blew open the lid of big contracts, the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup for the first time in team history and, hey, they just elected a new pope.
Could this win help bolster Enroth’s confidence? Absolutely. It should also make fans feel a little less anxious when they hear Miller will get the night off–if a backup has proven himself or is proving himself, that lessens the doubt and makes the ride perhaps a little easier.
But don’t look for the Sabres to suddenly become a team that evenly splits goaltending time between its tandem. Already in this season, they’ve proven they are not that team since Enroth has only seen playing time in five matches. They still have Miller and as long as he’s in his best form, he’ll be the Buffalo workhorse.
Whenever the workhorse gets tired, hurt or just generally needs to take a breather, though, there’s always Enroth.