It was more of the same for the Buffalo Sabres Saturday afternoon as they relied on backup goalie Jhonas Enroth heavily in a 1-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers. Enroth was required to make 29 saves in his first shutout of the season, many coming off uncontested shots and breakaways. However, the final score is not indicative of Enroth’s overall play.
If the Sabres do end up trading Ryan Miller in the upcoming offseason and expect Enroth to take over starting goalie duties, there will be many frenetic offensive possessions in the Sabres’ zone. While Enroth did make some great saves, one in particular against an unfettered Kimmo Timonen late in the third period comes to mind, there were also far too many manic saves Enroth brought upon himself. Enroth often let his momentum carry him a little too far when strafing between pipes and when shutting down angles by going into his butterfly stance while moving towards the shooter. At one point in the unorganized scramble, that is the 5-on-6 in the last minute of the game, Enroth found himself facing the net and somehow making a save with his butt to preserve the win.
There was more than enough tenuous goaltending that ended up ruining any confidence Enroth may have earned throughout in the game. It wasn’t that Enroth seemed to be pressing too much or overly nervous, it was simply his goaltending prowess that felt shaky. Perhaps if Enroth was the starting goalie night-in and night-out, his play would settle down and allow him to display a more consistent solidity that he certainly lacked against the Flyers.
The Sabres defense didn’t help Enroth much either. Far too often, the defense displayed a laissez-faire attitude allowing the Flyers direct shots or odd-man opportunities on Enroth. There were a few times during transitional play where the Flyers picked their way through the Sabres defenders and somehow created a 2-on-1 opportunity, while in the Sabres’ zone, with a simple pass between two defenders. It is painfully clear that the Sabres defenders lack confidence in their ability to handle the puck as time after time they were forced into a giveaway in their own zone or to take an icing penalty. The Flyers’ forecheck was potent and Sabres defenders didn’t do much to break the forecheck’s pressure.
Enroth did an admirable job, but to believe Enroth will offer the same quality of play that Miller has would be folly.