While injuries are never a good thing on a personal basis, they could end up doing the unexpected by being a blessing in disguise for an organization. At this point in the season, the Buffalo Sabres are clearly out of playoff contention meaning there is no better time for their usual starters to miss a few games due to injury.
Lately, the Sabres have experienced a rash of injuries namely to their goaltenders. Michal Neuvirth was the first to fall due to a lower body injury. Shortly thereafter, Jhonas Enroth sustained a lower body injury in a collision with Montreal Canadiens‘ Brendan Gallagher.
Typically speaking, this unfortunate series of events would completely destroy a team’s outlook for the future. With that being said, the Sabres are an exception to that rule as they have two young goaltenders making their debuts in back-to-back games. This could make things interesting for the squad moving forward.
On Mar. 18, Nathan Lieuwen made his NHL debut in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. In that game, Lieuwen stopped 23 of the 26 shots he faced, giving him a save percentage of .885. While this was a less than ideal start for Lieuwen, he did show some potential and could earn another start if injuries keep either Enroth or Neuvirth out for a prolonged period of time.
Matt Hackett will make his Sabres debut on Mar. 20 when he faces the Edmonton Oilers. Hackett has some history in the NHL as he played for the Minnesota Wild. During his time with the Wild, Hackett posted a subpar stat-line of a .914 save percentage and 2.64 GAA. Whether or not he can prove himself in a Sabres jersey has yet to be seen.
Looking forward, both Lieuwen and Hackett have the potential to make a case for a roster spot with the Sabres. Their fate now rests with time. Will Enroth and/or Neuvirth be able to return from injury soon enough to keep the young goalies from having a second chance to impress or will the injuries linger long enough to allow the Sabres to gain a solid opinion on one of the youngsters? Stay tuned to this situation as it unfolds because these seemingly unfortunate injuries could prove to be a true blessing in disguise in of bringing a new face into the locker room for a prolonged period of time.