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Sabres’ Goaltending Injury Woes Worsen

Buffalo has four netminders out on injury/COVID protocol.

San Jose Sharks v Buffalo Sabres Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

The Buffalo Sabres’ goaltending situation has turned even bleaker than it already was, after both netminders were injured in Tuesday night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Sabres now have a whopping FOUR goaltenders on their injured list, and the prognosis isn’t great for any of them:

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who started Wednesday’s game, left after the first period with a lower-body injury and didn’t return. After an MRI, he’s considered week-to-week.

Malcolm Subban came in to relieve UPL, but he too was eventually hurting after Lightning forward Pat Maroon fell on him. (He did stay in and completed the rest of the game, so the Sabres weren’t forced into an EBUG situation).

Now, he’s considered month-to-month with an upper-body injury.

Craig Anderson remains month-to-month, also with a UBI, while Dustin Tokarski is considered week-to-week as he recovers from his bout with COVID.

The team is in a tough spot, and has now been forced to recall Aaron Dell and sign Michael Houser. Houser wasn’t previously on an NHL contract but has signed a one-year deal worth $750,000.

If you’ve watched any Sabres hockey this season, you don’t need me to tell you how poorly Dell has performed at the NHL level. He appeared in seven games earlier in the season, accrued a 4.52 GAA and .872 save percentage and failed to register even one win.

His numbers at the AHL level in his limited stint in Rochester have been better, but that’s a completely different playing field and level of play. He’s 5-0-0 with the Amerks, with a 2.76 GAA and .910 save percentage. Unfortuantely, it’s not realistic to expect that these numbers will transfer over.

Houser has appeared in 11 games with Rochester, going 5-4-0 with a 2.98 GAA and .900 save percentage. He has only played four NHL games in his career, all of them during the 2020-21 season with Buffalo.

As it stands right now, it looks like Dell & Houser will be the Sabres’ tandem for a while, which is less than ideal for an already-struggling team. The other question which some have posed: do we see the Sabres try to get either Erik Portillo or Devon Levi to follow in the footsteps of Jack Lafontaine and leave college early to sign an NHL deal in a pinch?

The Sabres are set to return to action on Thursday in Nashville.