On Saturday, Jhonas Enroth will make his first of what could be 20-30 starts over the course of the 2011-12 campaign. That’s more playing time than Ryan Miller’s understudies have traditionally gotten, but as coach Lindy Ruff told the Buffalo News, he has confidence in Enroth:
We plan on using Jhonas a fair amount. So in back to back situations we’re definitely going to use him. The overall plan for him is every three or four games to get him in. He had a great preseason for us, had a great finish to the year for us so I don’t have any hesitation putting Jhonas in.
Enroth held his own in the NHL last season, with a 9-2-2 record, 2.73 GAA, and .907 save percentage in 14 games. However, that was on top of 41 AHL games, as the Sabres primarily used him when Miller was injured. This time around, netminder Patrick Lalime isn’t with Buffalo and Enroth is expected to spend the whole season with the Sabres. He shouldn’t challenge Miller for the number one gig in 2011-12, but he’s a candidate to be Miller’s eventual successor.
The Sabres made a number of additions in the off-season which made the team less dependent on Miller. However, that shouldn’t detract from the fact that the Sabres have also developed a reliable understudy in Enroth, who can play enough to keep Miller fresh and fill in admirably if Miller suffers an injury.