Lindy Ruff made it crystal-clear Sunday that backup goaltender Patrick Lalime is going to get his first start this week and "it's sooner rather than later." Frankly, I had penciled in Lalime for Saturday night in Atlanta, with Ryan Miller getting the call Monday on Long Island, Wednesday in Madison Square Garden and Friday in HSBC Arena against Vancouver.
I still say Lalime goes in one of the back-to-back games but Ruff wasn't tipping his hand so you have to wonder what the coach is thinking.
What's most important is Ruff stay to the schedule Miller pushed for when his new contract was signed over the summer. A good number of games for Miller seems to be 60-63, which leaves 19-22 for Lalime. Ruff has not had much faith in backup goaltenders in his time here, and completely lost any confidence in Jocelyn Thibault last season.
It's going to be crucial for Lalime to play well early to get the confidence of his coach and new teammates. And to get Miller the rest he clearly needs as the season goes along.
So would you spring Lalime on the expected-to-be weak Islanders today or the potentially 5-0 Rangers on Wednesday? Put him out at HSBC on Friday night? Or do what I'd envision and let him play Saturday in Atlanta?