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Down to the Wire For the Sabres..With a Goalie Dilemna

The Buffalo Sabres have done an admirable job to climb back into the National Hockey League playoff picture, but they still have a little bit of work to do..and a critical decision to make.

The Sabres were an afterthought to much of Buffalo in mid-November, with the team contending for last place in the league and many players, notably reigning Vezina Trophy winner Ryan Miller, showing a decrease in performance from last season.  Afternoon Buffalo sports talk-show hosts even talked about how hard it would be to find things to talk about between the NFL draft and the start of training camp (assuming there's even a season, of course). 

But the Sabres regrouped, aided by a rejuvenated transition attack and Miller's return to form, and the team has surged into 7th place in the Eastern Conference with two games remaining.  The Sabres only need one point in the two remaining games to clinch at least the 7th seed in the East.  However, the team would miss the playoffs if it loses out, and if Carolina and the New York Rangers win out.

This where it gets interesting.  Miller has not played in over a week, and backup Jhonas Enroth has performed admirably, going 3-0-1 in his four starts.  Even if Milelr is ready to play, how can you justify pulling someone who gets his team at least a point almost every time he goes on the ice.  For the season, Enroth is 8-2-2.

It's interesting because Miller had not played poorly either before being injured.  Miller recorded a 3-1 record with two shutouts before being hurt, and he was named the NHL's First Star of the week just before he got hurt.  And Enroth was named the Third Star of the week last week.

So what do we have?  We have two goalies who have been performing at a high level down the stretch, in pressure games that determine whether or not the postseason will be in the picture.  Since February 22, the team has outperformed all other NHL teams, even the Canucks.  Miller is more experienced and has a much more impressive resume, but Enroth is essentially good for at least a point, at a time when all the Sabres need is one point.

WGR Sports Radio has reported that Enroth will start tonight against Philadelphia, and it is thought that Miller will start tomorrow night in Columbus.  Here's a scenario to ponder, as brought up today on WGR.

What if Enroth plays well tonight, and the Sabres lose 1-0 or 2-1, along with a Carolina win tonight and a Rangers win tomorrow afternoon.  The Sabres would not have a playoff spot locked up, and the team would go to Columbus with playoff hopes essentially on the line, assuming that Carolina beats Tampa tomorrow night.  Can Coach Lindy Ruff justify putting a cold Miller in net, in favor of the on-fire Enroth?  However you look at it, putting Miller in anytime in the next two days is a risk, especially when his competition has performed so admirably.

However you look at it, it's a goalie dilemna.  Drama in Buffalo, with the team battling for a playoff spot at the end of the year.

Because after all it's Buffalo, and as far as anyone is concerned, there's no way the Sabres are getting any help from New York or Carolina.  Not even one out of three possible outcomes.


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