Very late tonight by hockey night in Buffalo standards the Buffalo Sabres face off against the San Jose Sharks.
This is the second and final meeting between these two teams. The first meeting was a 6-3 victory for the Sabres. It was not a lopsided victory by any stretch of the means, as the Sabres were only winning by a slight margin, and empty net goal by Paul Gaustad and a finisher by Thomas Vanek in the final minute sealed the victory for the Sabres.
Both teams need the two points, the Sabres are trying to gain some ground on eight place Montreal, the Sabres trail them by eight points. The Sharks are sitting comfortably in fourth place – however the Western Conference is close enough that they could easily be out of the playoffs within a two or three game stretch.
While the start of the season had the Sabres singing the offensive blues, not able to score enough to bail Ryan Miller out for the win, it has been the polar opposite for the Buffalo Sabres lately. After scoring seven against Boston and adding three against Colorado, you would think the Sabres with Ryan Miller would still be on a winning streak. Not the case, as the Sabres needed all seven to defeat the Bruins 7-6, and lost 4-3 to the Avalanche. Ryan Miller has lost much of the Zen focus that won him the Vezina trophy last year. Am I worried about Ryan Miller never playing at that level again? No, Tim Thomas showed that a goaltender can jump back after having a horrible season, even after winning the Vezina. The only difference that scares me is that Thomas had some motivation to regaining his Vezina winning form, he had Tuuka Rask ready in the wings to take the number one goaltending position in Boston.
Ryan Miller has no one in the depth chart that will even compare or rival him for the job, nor will the Buffalo Sabres give anyone on the depth chart the chance to take the job from Ryan Miller.
Last year the goal from the start of training camp was clear, there was talk of playoffs and Stanley Cups from the moment of first puck drop. It is very rare that you even here Ryan Miller speak of winning anything; its excuses, remedies – a lot of talk and no action from the anointed one that should be carrying this team on a nightly basis, not the one needing carrying. Maybe last year was the fluke. Ryan had something to prove. He was snubbed for the Olympics before, he wasn’t going to let that happen again.
Are we to wait three more years for another run by Miller as he sets out to prove to USA Hockey that he can once again lead any team to victory?