10.7.10

In His Defense: Patrick Lalime.

I don't exactly know where to start on Patrick Lalime. When he had first come to the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008-2009 season, I didn't know much about the guy. All I knew was that he was a veteran goaltender who had previously had stints with Pittsburgh, Ottawa, St. Louis and Chicago. At the time when Ryan Miller went down and Lalime was in for quite a few games, I felt sorry for him. It wasn't because it was the backup being thrown into a starting role all of the sudden. I had a feeling that if things didn't go well for him or for the team, HE would be blamed for losses and the possibility of not making the playoffs. That's exactly what happened.

From what I can remember, he only won four games out of a thirteen game stretch that Miller was out. Was it all his fault? No of course not. Can he be blamed for some games? Maybe. The thing that has irked me with this team is that you can tell they don't play to their full potential in front of the backup. With Miller behind them, they know they don't have to worry much about a puck being stopped if they screw up. With a backup, it's like it's a whole new thing. They don't know who is back there. The forwards can't keep possession of the puck if their lives depended on it, and the defense seems to have brain farts all over the place. A backup goaltender needs more support than that, and Lalime never seemed to got it last season. Not making the playoffs last season was not his fault (and this is for those that might blame him. Get over it, it's a new year.)

This season seemed to be entirely different. Now, after Lalime had his short stint in Portland we began to notice changes. He got progressively better because he had played often in a short amount of time. The boys seemed to be comfortable with him in the net and they were starting to help him more often. He wasn't hung out to dry on goals and he was making spectacular saves. It was as if a new team (so to speak) had begun to show up in front of us when Miller wasn't in net.

The Minnesota game was a HUGE back step from all that Lalime had done. There were the boo birds chiming down on him because he let in three goals against a weak Wild group. Not even the two goals from Vanek late in the third period could soften that for anyone. The boos continued as you left the arena. Drew Stafford's Twitter account later read that evening as such:
Why is that such a big deal? How could a teammate who didn't even play that night, saying how the backup is the hardest worker on the team possibly mean something? It's the fact that someone said anything. Then Steve Montador said something. Then Miller mentioned it too. This is no time to hash out the 'accountability' word with me because I think standing up for your teammates is one of the most important things to do when you're on a professional sports team. The players didn't have to say a thing about what had happened. The fact they did goes a long way for the guy who was the victim. Again, I think the players realize that maybe they're the reason he can't win a game. The fact they cannot play consistently well in front of him might be getting to their heads.

Lalime was able to win his 200th game and make sure the Sabres clinched the playoffs in the same night. No one remembers it was the backup who did it, but why should they have to? I remember it because I believe in him and I know he's a great goaltender. That's why it matters to me. It was like redemption; having him come back from those jeers and being able to win a game that meant something for the fans. It's not like we wouldn't have won another game had he not won that one, but it was still special to see him clinch the spot.

With him re-signing here, I have seen nothing but mass amounts of hatred towards it. News flash Sabreland: Jhonas Enroth isn't ready for the big time yet and Marty Biron wouldn't have come back anyways. Lalime was our best bet and I think Darcy made the right decision in keeping him for another year. People are complaining about how he's just 'not great' and again,
bring up how we should've signed Biron. It's the life of a Sabres fan, thinking about what was and they're just STUCK IN THE PAST. When both Chris Drury's and Daniel Briere's contracts are up, I guarantee people are going to petition for those two to come back in a Sabres uniform. Get over it, people.

Also, if my Olympic goaltender is giving a shout out to a certain guy for helping him grow and keeping him happy, I'm on board to keep him around. If only to keep Miller happy, but also because of the locker room presence and the reliability. Before you completely throw him under the bus, give him another chance. Your starting goaltender always believed - you should too.

15 comments:

Phil said...

I differ in opinion with you that he's a great goaltender because he hasn't even been good consistently for a long time. I think a lot of losses are to be pinned on him AND the skaters because he doesn't inspire confidence in his teammates like Miller does and it results in the entire team going to crap.

They can talk all they want, but Lalime needs to inspire them as much on the ice as much as he inspires Miller. Miller respects and has the guy's back, on and off the ice. But everyone else? Save for the Chicago and Pittsburgh games, it doesn't feel like they have Lalime's back at all. And until they do, Lalime is going to keep getting credited with losses

Shelby Rose said...

Differences of opinions totally accepted. I do agree in not inspiring confidence, but at the same time, how often has that happened with other backup goaltenders? I know it hasn't just happened to him. It just seems to happen a lot. The team has to find confidence within both the starter and backup in some shape or form.

It just makes me wonder if the third time is really a charm and things will change.

Phil said...

It may not just happen to him, but it does seem to only happen within the Sabres organization. Many other teams have back-up goaltenders who have had similar stats or just slightly inflated stats from the starter.

This falls on Lindy and his inability to effectively rotate his goaltenders. He fails so hard at it.

This also falls on Darcy who, knowing Patrick Lalime's reflexes are shot and how his hips are both bad, didnt' find the team a more suitable back-up. I understand they only wanted someone for one more year, but there were better options. Honestly, I see this signing as Darcy's only failure this free agency cuz even though I like Patty (and his career-long streak of EPIC masks), he's no longer a good goaltender.

lefty824 said...

It's also very hard for a back-up to gain confidence when his coach only plays him like once every 3 weeks. I feel that Ruff doesn't have any confidence in Lalime, and that seems to rub off on the team. He hasn't trusted a backup since Biron. I don't know, I don't think that he handles back-ups very well. It's just so hard for a goalie to get into a groove when he barely plays.

Shelby Rose said...

There were many different options out there for goaltending, and yes, there were better ones. I know how much you wanted the Moose on the team, and I would've loved it if maybe Ellis had a shot with the Sabres...to be honest, I thought Patty was retiring after this past season. A lot of us thought that, especially after the surgery.

I'm so biased on this topic though because I really like Patty.

Shelby Rose said...

lefty; that's what Phil, I, and Ryan (from the Goose's Roost) were discussing at one point on Twitter. Lindy's incapability of using the backup goaltender is a major disadvantage of this team. Maybe if he were able to utilize them more often, Miller wouldn't have fatigue be a factor (ever) and he could perform better during a playoff stretch, or even nearing the end of the season.

lefty824 said...

Especially with us having twenty-freaking-two back to backs this year... good lord. He better learn how to use Patty!

pumpjacksandbison said...

It's been said, but Ruff's lack of confidence in a backup is a big problem with Patty. The entire team DOES go to shit when he's in the net, and the entire fanbase does the same. how can someone play consistently when they only play when Ryan is absolutely Exhausted (and Ryan runs on energizer batteries). It's really impossible for Patty to be perfect, and that's not his fault.

The only reason I often say that we should maybe have overlooked Patty is the fact that everyone gets so nervous in front of him. When he's on the stage, everyone is OVER performing, not playing their game (the game they play with Miller.) Ever been told to be PERFECT, because if you don't, things go to shit? Well...if you try to be perfect...things go to shit. There's an impossibility to rely on Patty for that fact is that the over performance leads for everyone to try to land that 'perfect' play and...that's when you have problems. KISS. Keep it Simple Stupid. For some reason that's what the sabres need...and it never works for them.

Shelby Rose said...

Meg; I know exactly what you're saying about making things too perfect. You can see it in the way they play that they're over analyzing so they in fact don't screw up but they tend to anyways; worse than they do in front of Miller. With the confidence level already being low and them trying to do that, a smart, winning team that does not make.

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吳婷婷 said...

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