|Patrick Lalime (Photo: Getty Images) |
For Patrick Lalime, less may be more when it comes to his new role as starting goaltender.
As he prepares to take over for Ryan Miller
– sidelined indefinitely with a high ankle sprain - Lalime said it may be what he doesn’t do in practice that could help him succeed.
“I think you don’t want to make too big of a change. Maybe you don’t want to work as hard, or as long maybe on the ice, save a little more [energy] for the games,” he said. “You just want to feel good about yourself and your game.”
Lalime, who has averaged playing every seventh game of the season, often takes extra shots after practice to stay sharp and said he treats each drill with “game-day intensity.” But now, knowing he will be starting in net while Miller recovers, Lalime hopes to refine his routine.
He succeeded in Chicago playing in 44 contests for the Blackhawks and compiling a 20-18-3 record over two seasons. And Head Coach Lindy Ruff was pleased with Lalime’s play throughout training camp and early in the season.
“It’s tough being a back-up, it’s tough stepping in every sixth or seventh game,” Ruff said. “For Patty, it’s preparing. He knows now that he’s playing. We have a lot of trust that he’s going to play well for us and I think he has a lot of trust that the team is going to play well in front of him.”
Ruff has seen first-hand what playing consistently can do for a goaltender. When Miller fractured his thumb in 2005, Martin Biron notched an impressive 14-5-1 record while his teammate recovered.
“Part of that is you get to play game after game,” he said. “You get to prepare game-to-game and get yourself in a rhythm… I’m hoping that we can do the same thing with Pat now.”
“I think he is going to get into a rhythm,” Miller said. “That’s what Patty has proved in the past. He’s the kind of guy that can step in and play. He’s been a big-time performer… The guys are going to play the same system around him, give him the same kind of support because everybody in the locker room really respects him and really cares for him. He’s a great guy.”
Lalime’s first test will be tonight as the Sabres host the Anaheim Ducks, a team he is familiar with playing in the Western Conference for the last three seasons.
“I think he’s got a good feel for what the Ducks can do,” Ruff said. “I think he knows those players better than we know them as a team.”
“But there are always new faces,” Lalime said. “You just want to know a little about their tendancies, power plays, stuff like that.
“The rest, you [take it] as it comes.”