Saturday night’s 8-3 loss to Pittsburgh was a tough one for Buffalo netminders Ryan Miller and Jhonas Enroth. Miller allowed three goals on the first seven shots he faced (including a 60-foot slapper from Jason Williams) before being replaced by Enroth, who promptly allowed a soft Evgeni Malkin backhand to get past him. Miller then returned for the start of the second period — only to be yanked again — before Enroth returned for the final frame.
That brutal performance drew the ire of Buffalo owner Terry Pegula.
“We saw some great goaltending tonight, didn’t we?” Pegula said outside the dressing room. “If they think they played well, we’ve got more problems.”
After spending huge in the offseason — Pegula committed nearly $140 million in player salaries this summer — you can’t blame the owner for being pissed. Sure, the Sabres are still in a playoff position, but they’re also 8-9-3 at home this season, have suffered a rash of injuries and had their team toughness called into question after the Miller-Milan Lucic incident.
Speaking of Miller, he wasn’t pleased with his performance either.
“It’s a little disheartening for the guys,” Miller said. “They weren’t very good goals. I’d like to be better for them.
“We’ve got to find a way to get the right energy. From my side I didn’t provide any. Actually, I probably took some away from the guys not making the right reads or the right plays.”
Miller’s fall from grace this season is stunning. Normally atop most statistical goaltending categories, his goals-against average of 3.12 ranks 37th in the league while his save percentage of .902 is 32nd. Enroth, meanwhile, has cooled off considerably since his outstanding start to the year. He’s lost eight of the last 10 games he’s appeared in and his save percentage over the last three is a meager .873.
If the goalies are expecting words of encouragement, they’d better not look to head coach Lindy Ruff. His assessment of both guys’ performances from Saturday night was pretty blunt.
“There’s no secret. It was a tough night for Ryan, starting with the first goal,” Ruff said. “I didn’t like Jhonas, the goal he lets in, obviously. Every shot starts going in it’s tough on the team.”