Buffalo Sabres: Can they compete with Robin Lehner and Chad Johnson?

SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12: Robin Lehner
SAN JOSE, CA - OCTOBER 12: Robin Lehner /

The Buffalo Sabres have been far from good through the first part of the season. Last place in both the Atlantic and Eastern Conference while just being one point above Arizona in the NHL shouldn’t sit well with fans.

The offense has experienced its slumps throughout the season for the Buffalo Sabres . Specific players aren’t contributing to their usual norm, while the star players can’t get it going every single game. The lack of depth scoring on the Sabres has been a concern since day one.

Sabres’ GM Jason Botterill might have thought the defense would be upgraded with the additions of Marco Scandella and Nathan Beaulieu. Injuries and confusing play from the d-core has left the likes of defensive specialist Phil Housley stumped.

How about the two goalies Buffalo carries at the moment?

Botterill took a gamble when inking Robin Lehner to a one-year, “show me” type of deal this past summer.

The Swede’s stats suggest that Botterill wasn’t so sure in his decision making. Lehner is posting a 5-10-2 record through 18 games. The starting keeper is well on his way to smashing his career high 26 regulation losses in a single season.

Lehner has a .905 save percentage with a 2.96 GAA, both of which are near the bottom of the NHL with goalies that have played more than 15 games. The 26-year-old posts a 107 goals against percentage meaning that he’s posting above the norm for goals allowed versus the league average scored.

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Lehner has been even worse on both the power-play and shorthanded. He’s allowed four goals on 19 man advantage shots, good for a .789 save percentage when Buffalo is up a man. The Swords are near the top of the NHL in shorthanded goals allowed, eight of which Lehner has been responsible for.

Chad Johnson returned to Buffalo after a stint with the Calgary Flames.

He’s played 10 games this season, posting a 1-4-2 record. Johnson has a .885 save percentage with an alarming 3.59 GAA. The 31-year-old is way above average in terms of goals allowed in the league this season.

The Saskatchewan-native has lost all five of his recent appearances. Johnson can also take some blame in terms of shorthanded goals allowed, amassing for the other five this campaign.

It’s not so much that the Sabres goalies are awful at what they do because they really aren’t. Both Lehner and Johnson have made some remarkable saves this season, some that keep Buffalo within certain games.

The problem is that both are not starting material.

The situation in net that Botterill has created is similar to the one the Stars put up last season. Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen were not good for Dallas to say the least. The Stars had to deal with the combo all season long as they missed the playoffs.

It’s looking like Buffalo might have to do the same here.

Some trade talk has been thrown around. Phillip Grubauer was a part of some discussion here on TIP, but that might not be the complete solution. Buffalo needs a goalie that can help right now and in the future. The Sabres need the face of the franchise in net.

Buffalo will have to look down in their pipeline to see what they have, or they could look forward to next June when the draft hits. Regardless, Buffalo will have to carry both Lehner and Johnson throughout the duration of this campaign. At this point, Buffalo is not looking competitive with the duo in goal.

Next: Sabres denied second straight win by Canadiens

Can the Buffalo Sabres compete with Lehner and Johnson? Should they look to trade or wait until the draft? Let us know in the comments below.