Before I get into this blog there are two things I want to make clear. 1, I am in no way bashing or hating on Enroth, I am very happy the way he has helped out the injury depleted Sabres team, 2. I promise my next blog will not be about the Sabres! Alright now that we cleared that up, let's dive right into the matter.
I'm going to come right out and say it, Enroth is clearly not ready to be a day in and day out number one goaltender right now. The situation in Buffalo right now, with Miller being injured, forced Lindy Ruff to throw Enroth to the lions so to speak. Look at it this way; Miller was playing lights out at the very start of the season and tailed off significantly shortly before he was injured, while Enroth as the number "1A" was playing superb hockey. Sabres coach Lindy Ruff was perfectly right to sit Miller for awhile and declare Enroth the starter, but he didn't, peculiar isn't it? Now there is no denying how well Enroth has played in the past; He was 6-0 and hadn't lost a game dating back to last November. After 4 games he was posting a nice 1.41 goals-against average and .952 save percentage. But since Miller went down with a concussion Enroth has shown to be human, He's played 7 straight games and the Sabres earned 7 of a possible 14 points. They, just ended a losing streak of 3 straight games, in which Enroth let in 3 goals or more in each game. His stats have dropped, to a .925 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average. His last 3 games have everyone jumping off the good ship Enroth in the fantasy leagues, and he has proven to not be ready to be a number one goaltender just yet.
The difference between his play now, and his play at the beginning of the year is the absence of Miller. Though Miller was not playing up to his normal level, all the media and all the pressure was thrown to Miller, Enroth was just suppossed to be a back-up plan, to assist the Sabres when Miller got tired, the media still followed Miller around, wanting to know what the heck was wrong with him, for the most part they left Enroth alone. Then when the rest of the league figured out that Enroth was actually decent, the media came to him. Like I said earlier, he was thrown to lions, now he has to answer, for bad goals, loses, and what not. In the last few games Enroth has been playing just as poorly as Miller was before his injury. This makes me wonder if we were all wrong to be so hard on Miller, after all Enroth isn't getting nearly as much hate as Miller was getting. Since he was called up last season, Enroth has shined as a back-up and a fill in goaltender; he had played stretches of 10 games to provide relief (lst season), but the spotlight wasn't on him. But now the media and fans are trying to throw him into the number one role, and he's not ready; hence the reason Ruff wouldn't designate him as starter, Enroth isn't ready to handle all the pressure that comes with being "the man". Agree or not, Enroth's play in the last 7 games has not been the greatest, he's let in bad goals, and made the D look even worse than they are on goals; just like Miller. Now I know every goalie is bound to let in bad goals, but by that logic, why trash Miller for his weak goals and not Enroth. Maybe you think Enroth's been playing outstanding, you're entitled to your opinion, no matter how wrong you are, but to me he doesn't look ready to be the full number one goalie quite yet. He has to mature and be given a chance to slowly transition into that position, before being eaten alive by the NHL media.
Now before I get a bunch or e-mail/comments that I hate Enroth and am not giving him a chance; I have been extremely happy and proud of the job he has been doing for the Sabres, without him between the pipes, say we still had Patty Lalime, we would not currently be sitting in 7th. We would likely be out of the playoff picture and be having to battle our way back in when Miller returend. Now even though we are currently in 7th, any other year we would be in 5 or 6th with Enroth's help, but this season our conference is extremely tight for some reason, so a couple consecutive loses (3) and we drop like 5 places. Anyway there is no question Enroth has been there for the Sabres and helped them get some badly needed points, I love the job he has done, and he restored Ruff's confidence. The team plays a little more conservatively in front of Enroth, but at least they are scoring goals. Something that I haven't seen the Sabres do in front of a goalie not named Miller, happened Saturday night, they didn't hold back. They kept attacking the Capitals no matter the score or the situation, proving that they know Enroth will be back there to clean up their mistakes. Now I know goaltending isn't the only troubles this Sabres team is having, with 8 regulars and the number 7 defenseman out of the line-up now, the Sabres are relying heavily on Enroth to hang in tight and deliver this team a chance to get 2 points every night. Thus far Enroth has yet to disappoint winning 8 of his 14 games this season; respectable numbers for a back-up, but the numbers have to improve if he expects to be a number one goalie in the this league. It could just be me, or that Enroth hasn't officially "proven" himself yet, but I still get nervous when we have a 2 goal lead or get called for a penalty, for myself I hold my breath on every breakaway, penalty kill and shootout. But Enroth is starting to win me over, I like his style of play and how he never gives up on a puck, I think he will be a very good, or even great goaltender in this league one day, just not today.
When Miller started playing poorly, everyone immediately jumped on the Enroth bandwagon claiming he was going to save this team and that he needed to be named the number one, and that we should dump Miller as soon as possible. Ruff went so far to label him the number 1 A goalie. Well those people, and Lindy Ruff were wrong, for the most part they need to shut up! Miller is going through a dry spell, he will bounce back, and like I have repeatedly said if this team wants to go far they need Miller between the pipes. I don't believe Enroth is ready to put this team on his back yet. Despite Enroth's good play, he has shown he isn't perfect (no goalie is) and other teams are getting to know his tendencies the more he play.As of today, Enroth is the number 1 goalie in Buffalo, when Miller gets back he'll return to being the number 2, but one day he will be a regular in the league, but that day is not today. This is still Miller's team.