Going for it without saying as much
There's been question about how the Sabres will attack being in the mix for the playoffs and the answer got a little clearer Monday.
BUFFALO — It might seem odd that any team within sniffing distance of the postseason would have any question about how they would handle things as the schedule grows shorter, the games get tighter, and pressure enhances the attention on every decision. This is what it feels like in Buffalo though and it’s understandable.
But ahead of the Sabres matinee against Florida, coach Don Granato spoke about how he’s come to make decisions on which of the three goalies they’re carrying get the call. It was illuminating to hear such detail about the thought process that goes into this very uncommon situation having a three-headed monster of Craig Anderson, Eric Comrie, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen each sharing the net.
“To make a decision we’ve made to this point, (Luukkonen)’s in a rhythm, the work to rest ratio—he’s had rest, he had the day yesterday to re-energize,” Granato said. “So, we’re looking at a lot of things we can look at to see, ‘OK can we put this guy back in,’ but over the last little bit he’s shown us that if the three guys are ready, the edge is to him right now. He’s in a groove, he’s been winning games, and so today’s decision based on winning, he’s the guy. He’s fresh, if I thought that he was still—Nashville, the travel, the battle within that game—if he needed another day, we would’ve given him another day.
“But the fact is he’s ready. That’s how we’re making our decision, with as much information as we can take in with the objective of what gives us the best chance to win that next game without jeopardizing wins in the future. Obviously, if a guy has an injury that’s going to linger and nag, he might win tonight but he might be out for the next five games nursing it. Obviously, that’s a different type of decision, so yeah, he fits today, and we’ll evaluate and see where we’re at after today.”
Granato is always willing to offer a peek into his and the organization’s thought process on various moves and topics, but with goaltending it’s been a little more guarded while they figured out the situation, and that was before Luukkonen forced his way into the equation. That he’s saying he’s not only riding the hot hand but sticking by Luukkonen while he is the hot hand signals to me, they’re very aware they’re in the hunt for the postseason and they’re going to do what they can with the group they have to be in the best position in that spot—or higher up in the standings—deeper into the season.
Look at it like the phrase “playing important games in March” we’d hear ad nauseum but with some actual heft and a plan behind it.
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