Portland, ME – You can see the wear and tear on the face of Pirates’ head coach Kevin Dineen after going through a grueling road trip, dealing with one injury after another and now needing to resolve a goaltending situation that is considered to be precarious, at best.
Locked in his office for nearly 90 minutes after practice was complete, Dineen finally emerged to speak to the media.
“Any update on the goaltending situation?” was asked in the media scrum.
“We have two goalies out there right now,” he said. “We’ll just figure (the goalie situation) out (as we go).”
Dineen was correct as the Pirates did have two goalies on the ice in practice, but I’m not sure if they are whom the fans would like to see in net when the Hartford comes to town on Saturday.
Dineen was talking about Ray Jean and Rob Lemelin, who was signed to a PTO prior to the game in Hartford, but this is not exactly the situation the Pirates were hoping to find themselves in with 22 games left in the season.
The Pirates are currently sitting in third place in the Atlantic Division, six points behind Providence, but more importantly, they are four points from fifth place Worcester.
They will battle the Springfield Falcons on Wednesday, before taking on the Sharks Friday night as each game begins to carry more of a significant value in terms of points and position within the standings.
Now it looks like they will have to take on that challenge without their number one goalie in Jhonas Enroth.
Enroth was recalled on Sunday by the Buffalo Sabres after Ryan Miller suffered a sprained ankle that will sideline him for an indefinite period of time.
Portland was already without Adam Dennis, who underwent hip surgery in January and expected to be out for at least the regular season, resulting in the Pirates bringing in John DeCaro from Las Vegas, who played very well winning all three of his starts.
Unfortunately, he suffered a broken collarbone during his pre-game skate against Worcester and expected to be out for a minimum of four weeks.
It’s not a good situation for the Pirates in the best of times, but this is a team who has given up an average of 5.17 goals per game over the last six contests, as they’ve gone 1-3-1-1 during that span.
Dineen has been scouring the ECHL for somebody who can play goal in the AHL and do it on a competitive level. This is no different for Pirates fans from the days of the Anaheim Ducks when it was Mike Wall one night, Nathan Marsters the next or Greg Naumenko on the third night. One thing that is known for sure and that is Dineen is scrambling with the Buffalo Sabres trying to find a goalie to give Portland a little depth.
“This is a tough time to get a (goalie),” said Dineen. “We’re trying to get the right guy instead of just a body and it’s a work in progress.”
It’s possible the Sabres could make a trade with the NHL deadline approaching for a goalie that can backup Lalime and send Enroth back to Portland. It’s also possible that they could make a small minor league deal for a goalie to provide the Pirates with a number one goalie, while Enroth is in Buffalo and provide some depth to the organization should Lalime get injured. They could do nothing and let Dineen find two goalie in the ECHL, who he get signed to a PTO until Miller returns from injury.
Regardless of what happens in net, the Pirates not only have to deal with the loss of both goalies, they also have to deal with the loss of Mike Weber and Tim Kennedy for an extended period of time.
Weber missed two games on the current road trip with what Dineen called an upper body injury, but it’s speculated to be his shoulder.
Kennedy is also out indefinitely after suffering from a leg injury that required the assistance of a cane.