Patrick Lalime will be the starting goaltender tonight as the Buffalo Sabres host the Chicago Blackhawks at HSBC Arena.
The game will be the netminder’s first start since a 5-3 loss on Nov. 21 at the hands of the Ottawa Senators.
Head Coach Lindy Ruff said earlier this month that with the busy schedule in December, Lalime would be getting some playing time. With four games in six nights this week, he said the decision ultimately came down to Ryan Miller
needing a break.
“We took the number of games [into consideration], we took into consideration that Patrick knows some of these guys, [being his] former team,” Ruff said. “It’s a back-to-back, you can look at it a number of different ways. As a staff we decided to give Patty this one.”
While Lalime hasn’t played in the Sabres’ last eight contests, the goaltender has had some game-action, assigned to the AHL Portland Pirates on a conditioning stint last week.
In two games against the Providence Bruins, Lalime amassed 64 saves and a .914 save percentage, compiling an 0-1-1 record in the process.
“He had an extremely strong night Friday, facing 45 shots,” Pirates Head Coach Kevin Dineen said of the 3-2 shootout loss. “I was really impressed by his patience and he really stood out as a dominant player in the game.
“He started to cramp [in the second game on Saturday] with all the work he received… but with that being said I think he did a real good job in the two games he played for us.”
Lalime hasn’t had the best of luck in net this season for Buffalo with an 0-2 record and .838 save percentage. He hopes that his preparation and work in Portland can change his fortune.
“It goes both ways sometimes,” Lalime said. “I just have to focus on my job and the rest is out of my hands.
“We play to win hockey games and that’s what I want to do here.”