Without a doubt Ryan Miller has been the best player the Sabres have put on the ice this season and the biggest reason for their success. Though he impressed us all season and has been in the top 3 in almost every major goaltending stat he’s seemed “mortal” on this road trip. I don’t know what or who to blame directly for his slight slack in performance but Ill start with Lindy Ruff. I love Ruff as a coach but he has to learn slow and steady wins the race, throwing Miller to the wolves every night in an attempt to jump ahead in the standings and fear of losing is ultimately going to lead to just that. Miller will not get a 2 week rest during the Olympics if any at all like most of the NHL will.
I believe the Sabres played some of their best overall team hockey on this road trip, Connolly kept the streak alive, Vanek found the net finally and the defense was as strong as ever. Oddly they end the road trip 2-3-2. I believe alot has to do with Miller, he let in some very uncharacteristic goals as of late. As I said he needs more breaks, I also believe he may beginning to feel the stress and/or excitement of the upcoming Olympics. Ill use last night’s game against Vancouver as a slight example… Henrik Sedin had a breakaway and absolutely undressed Miller and left him slamming his stick and looking for his pads that had just been juked off his body. This is a trend I haven’t seen much in Miller, he was known as a one on one shut down goalie but this year has struggled in shootouts and similar plays like Sedin’s. The last ten games Miller has let in some questionable goals he would normally swat away like an annoying bug. I do not know if it has been announced yet but I really hope Ruff gives him a breather and puts Lalime in against New Jersey if not for a rest but a mental reboot, just watching Miller lately he seems very frustrated with every goal and that is normally not the case.
The Sabres still have a comfortable lead atop the division but Ottawa has won 6 in a row coming into tonight and they come to town next week. If Buffalo struggles against New Jersey and Boston this week we may be looking at a 4 point swing game against Ottawa and then those annual thoughts of “here we go again” may creep back into fan’s minds. Yes the Sabres will make the playoffs and yes I believe they have a great shot at the division still, I only fear Miller may get over worked and come playoff time Miller may lose some of his bite and become “Miller Lite”. Yah I went there and with that Im out!
Tags: Boston Buffalo News Buffalo Sabres Division Eastern Conference Free Agency Lindy Ruff Miller Lite New Jersey NHL Northeast Division Olympics Ottawa Ryan Miller Sabres Stanley Cup Playoffs Thomas Vanek Tim Connolly