With Patrick Lalime, expecting the unexpected is quickly turning into a habit. As clumsy as the goaltender's recent lapse in judgment was, he isn't new to these costly mistakes and we're curious if Marty Turco is open to conducting a few tutoring sessions for him on the art of handling the puck. Soft goals and miscues are acceptable here and there, but Lalime's only consistency is his positive attitude and these careless moments.
That is why last weekend's set of events are just categorized as the latest; not the first or last.
Keeping Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis in check is an assignment that's bound to be nearly impossible. A young, powerful forward with a splendid release and shooting accuracy, combined with the experience and explosiveness of a veteran is a sensational match.
But the Buffalo Sabres kept them quiet on Saturday, and had Ryan Miller or Jhonas Enroth stood in the goal crease, a win was surely plausible. Getting adventurous, Lalime's direct pass to Adam Hall was an early Christmas gift for the grinder who amusingly accepted the gift-wrapped present.
To understand someone's tendencies, you have to realize the root cause. For Lalime, everything went awry in game seven of the 2004 playoffs, when he conceded two harmless, bad-angled shots and three goals in the first period from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Up until then, he was a genuinely steady goaltender for the Ottawa Senators. A poor campaign and postseason meltdown marched him out of Canada's capital and on a rough course through St. Louis, Chicago and Buffalo. That day in Toronto simply changed him for the worse.
Milan Jurcina doesn't boast the scoring record of an offensive defenseman, and in 17 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets, he converted this one marker. While the puck did pinball off the boards, Lalime could have avoided the disaster by hugging the post - another strategy he has yet to comprehend - or delaying his movement.
His footing and placement were questionable at best.
Adam Hall may have needed to pounce on his own rebound before capitalizing on Lalime's error, but Latendresse wasn't going to miss the wrap-around. Traded to Minnesota from the Montreal Canadiens, the winger discovered his untapped potential with the Wild, and the last thing he expected was a free tally - not that he didn't want it.
Unaware of his instructions to skate towards the bench initially, the 36-year-old reaches his destination too late and collides with an official on the way over. Jamie Langenbrunner delivers the empty net goal and Lindy Ruff's hopes of stringing together a final rush never pans out.
Teammates enjoy Lalime's support from the bench, but on the ice, they aren't taking a pleasing to his tactics. Enroth's reliability has been welcomed, as Miller's nagging groin problems persist, and it's only a matter of time before youth is substituted over experience.
One weak link can damage the chain of an organization, even in the position of a back-up netminder.