So Long, Neuvirth. Tanks For The Memories!

Tanks, Michal.  Hope to see you this summer.  Photo from sabres.com

Tanks, Michal. Hope to see you this summer. Photo from sabres.com

When I learned the Sabres had acquired Michal Neuvirth from the Washington Capitals, I was honestly excited. Buffalo had just dealt the face of the franchise in Ryan Miller, leaving a hole in my heart as much as a hole in the position. There was not much confidence in Miller’s backup, Jhonas Enroth, who had shown flashes of decent play, but didn’t appear to be able to fit the skates of his predecessor.

This season has been interesting at times, and a lot of that has to do with goaltending. While the Sabres have suffered record-breaking losing streaks and dismal goals-for averages, no one in the leagues is pointing at the goaltending as the reason – Enroth and Neuvirth had produced some pretty solid goaltending given the situation they were saddled with. Like Marines charging a hill in Iwo Jima, Buffalo’s goalies faced barrage after barrage of shots, never flinching, and even engineering a winning streak to close out 2014.

Take that, Darcy.  Photo from diebytheblade.com

Take that, Darcy. Photo from diebytheblade.com

Here we are, straddling the trade deadline, and neither of these goaltenders is dressed in the Blue and Gold. Enroth has joined his former coach Lindy Ruff in Dallas, and Neuvirth has been dealt to the Isles and will likely back up the man he was traded for at the deadline last year. In return for these two vets, we have obtained Anders Lindback and Chad Johnson – young journeymen who have been less than impressive in their time in the NHL. Each of our new goalies have recorded sub-.900 save percentages as well as sub-.500 records so far this season.

What brings a man – a general manager – to deal two steady netminders and replace them with a sieve and a block of swiss cheese, respectively? Two words: Darcy; Regier. Two more words: Tank; Race. Regier, the much beleaguered former GM of the Sabres has taken up the Assistant GM spot in Arizona and seems to be out to prove that he can out-tank his replacement – current Buffalo GM and resident Angry Cat look-alike, Tim Murray. On Sunday, the ‘Yotes dealt the team’s leading scorer in Keith Yandle to the playoff-bound Rangers. This afternoon, Arizona sent defenseman Zbynek Michalek to the Blues. The Coyotes now-weakened defense combined with an utter lack of quality goaltending was sure to send Arizona straight to the basement. But never fear, Buffalo! GMTM is here to save the day!

DAMMIT!  Outdone by Murray AGAIN!  Photo from NHL.com

DAMMIT! Outdone by Murray AGAIN! Photo from NHL.com

After a winless January, it was safe to say that the city of Buffalo had embraced the tank. We’d come to the understanding that there really was no turning the season around, and the best thing we could do for our own mental health was to accept our fate and start ordering our 97 sweaters and get geared up for a cup run in the next few years. When Enroth left for Dallas and Neuvirth was handed the reigns, Michal hit the ice with a vengeance, and the Sabres began a cringe-inducing upswing. His stellar play and his expiring contract made him a superior candidate for a trade, and so we send him eastward to a team that has a legitimate shot in a seemingly weak Eastern Conference. Neuvirth and current Isles starter Jaroslav Halak will be a fierce goaltending tandem heading down the home stretch, and Neuvirth may see some time if the Islanders want Halak to get some rest before the playoffs. While he was only in Buffalo for a season, he certainly made his mark as of late, and I would not at all be disappointed or surprised to hear his agent is speaking with Buffalo when the free agency period starts this summer.

And so it begins – the Lindback/Johnson era is upon us. Long. Live. The. Tank.

Photo from sabrestop.com

Photo from sabrestop.com

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