By Mike Harrington
The Sabres had plenty of roster moves to make in advance of tonight's game against the New York Rangers but interim coach Ron Rolston surprised the media during his morning briefing with another one: Jhonas Enroth will start in goal for the Sabres tonight because Ryan Miller has a sinus infection.
Miller will serve as backup and he's expected to be fine for the weekend; the Sabres are off until Ottawa is here Saturday. Enroth, of course, came within 6 1/2 minutes of a shutout Thursday in New Jersey before leaving with coffee-induced cramps.
"We sealed the coffee lids," Rolston joked.
What's no joke is the coach wants to see the backup -- who remains winless since Nov. 26, 2011 -- try to put together a second straight solid game.
"He's got to build off that game," Rolston said. "We'd like to see players be able to put things back-to-back, whether it's him or Grigorenko. Their job is to put the same product out there every night. ... I know it was one of the best games I've seen him play since I've been in the organization and we certainly want him to build off that."
Enroth is 1-1-1 in his career against the Rangers with a 2.31 goals against average, a .917 save percentage and his first NHL shutout, a 1-0 win over the Blueshirts here on March 23, 2011. He has not started at First Niagara Center since a 2-1 overtime loss to Winnipeg on Jan. 7, 2012. He's 0-10-3 in 16 appearances since his last win, a 5-1 triumph over Washington on Nov. 26, 2011.
Tyler Ennis will also sit out tonight's game after taking his hit from behind Sunday in Philadelphia, with Mikhail Grigorenko coming in for him. Ville Leino will continue to be out of the lineup. T.J. Brennan will be a healthy scratch and Jordan Leopold will be in for the first time since Feb. 17.
Rolston said they Sabres want to make sure Leino is ready to play and having more days to practice this week will allow him to get on a line during practice. They have a roster crunch too to make room for Leino; neither Kevin Porter or Brian Flynn or going back to Rochester any time soon.
"We want that around here," Rolston said. "We want players to make it tough on us to make those decisions. That's the most important thing."
For more from Rolston, including thoughts on Rangers forward J.T. Miller, whom he coached in the U.S. Development Camp, and retiring Boston University legend Jack Parker, click the audio file below.
taggedAndrej Sekera | Jhonas Enroth | Ron Rolston | Ryan Miller