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Examining the Buffalo Sabres goaltending

Saturday, 09.15.2007 / 10:00 AM / Season Preview

By Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor


 
Complete Sabres Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

Who's No. 1?

After a 2006-07 performance that saw Ryan Miller win 40 games, post a 2.73 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage, there is little question that the 27-year-old has the ability to carry the Sabres on his back for a long time to come.

The club, itself, came to that conclusion during the 2006-07 season, trading talented backup Martin Biron to Philadelphia for a draft pick to clear the way for Miller to become the big man on campus in Buffalo.

With two full seasons of NHL play under his belt -- including 34 playoff games -- Miller is on the cusp of becoming a workhorse goalie in the same elite class as New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff.

In those 34 playoff games over the past two seasons, Miller has gone 20-14 with a 2.40 GAA and .915 save percentage, suggesting that he has no qualms about playing on the biggest stage.

Backup plan

With Miller taking most of the starts, the Sabres were interested in finding a veteran keeper who can stay sharp despite a small amount of work. Buffalo believes it found that player in Jocelyn Thibault.

A 13-year vet and former All-Star, Thibault has not played in more than 22 games in any of the last three seasons. Last year, he was the backup to another young and emerging goalie, Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury. A hip injury limited Thibault to those 22 games, where he posted a respectable 2.83 GAA and .909 save percentage.

Just as important as his on-ice skills, though, is his off-ice demeanor. Thibault is a consummate professional, who is well-respected in the room and handles sporadic duty without complaint.

In the Wings

Adam Dennis The 22-year-old is just two years removed from being the OHL Goaltender of the Year while with London. Last season, he went 18-17-0 with a 3.34 GAA and a .894 save percentage for Rochester of the American Hockey League. He should fight for No. 1 duties with the Amerks this season as he continues his progression.

Jhonas Enroth Buffalo’s second-round pick last year, Enroth is a 19-year-old Swede who is considered by many to be the best Swedish goalie prospect since Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers broke onto the scene. He has been very good for his country internationally and will play for Sodertalje again this year.

Ryan Miller
Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller on the Sabres:

"I pride myself on being a competitor. That's what this team needs more than anything, is players to be competitors."
FAST FACTS

1. Jhonas Enroth was the star of Sodertalje’s promotion to the Swedish first division. In nine starts during the six-team promotional tournament, Enroth registered a 2.14 GAA and .921 save percentage.

Dennis

2. Adam Dennis won the Memorial Cup with London in 2005. That postseason, he went 9-1 with a 2.09 GAA and .934 save percentage.

3. Ryan Miller is one of the few goalies to ever win the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player. He won the award in 2001 while with Michigan State.


NHL.com's 2007-08 Sabres Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster
Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic