Tuesday, October 7, 2008

2008-2009 Buffalo Sabres: Goaltending and Special Teams

This is the third post in a multi-post series. Here is the first one and the second.

Ryan Miller is the foundation of the Sabres. Miller is the face of the franchise and a main leader of this team. His goaltending last season was less than stellar, especially as the season wore on. The main reason for this was the 76 games that Miller played last season and the toll that it took on his body and conditioning. Bring in Patrick Lalime.

Lalime should bear some of the load for Miller this season. Lalime played 32 games for the Blackhawks last season, going 16-12-4, with a 2.82 GAA and .897 SV%. These are respectable numbers for a backup and most likely can be trusted by Ruff unlike Thibault was last season. With the reduced work load, Miller's stats this season should improve from 36-27-10 with 2.66 GAA and .906 SV%, which were probably the worst since his three years as starter.

The special teams for the Sabres last year was not bad. Their powerplay percentage was 18%, good enough for 14th in the league, and their penalty kill was 83.2%, good enough for 11th in the league. These stats do need to improve for this season. A top ten special teams in both powerplay and penalty kill will markedly improve this teams chances of making the playoffs.

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