Everyone who said that the Buffalo Sabres would be better off without Ryan Miller, is now eating crow. Just 2 games into this 48 game season and Miller is showing he’s on his game! The Buffalo Sabres managed to sneak a 2-1 victory away from the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC largely because of Miller standing on his head and shutting down the blue and white.
Miller led the way for the Sabres stopping 34 of 35 shots against, in arguably the best goaltender showing this season. Jason Pominville led the way on offence with a goal and an assist to help earn the Sabres their 2nd win of the season, putting them in a tie for first in the North East division 2-0-0. Was it one of the better Sabres’ games I’ve seen? Not even close. Some sloppy play, far too many penalties, some bad passes and a little too much relying on Miller to hold down the fort. But never- the- less a win is a win and the Sabres are leaving Toronto on a high note.
The Buffalo Sabres focused this offseaon on adding more “toughness” to the team so they went out and acquired 6 foot 8 defenceman John Scott and Steve Ott. Scott played a decent game even dropping the gloves and amusing Colton Orr in a fight. But tonight the Sabres tried to be a little too physical- mainly Patrick Kaleta who spent most of the game in the penalty box after taking a whopping 16 penalty minutes. Sure he jumped to Miller’s defence after Phil Kessel sent Miller flailing, but it was Phil Kessel not a real threat to hurt Miller and his 10 minute misconduct was not needed at all, not to mention the penalty he took that allowed Nazem Kadri to break Miller’s shutout. Kaleta needs to learn to play on the edge without going over the edge or enjoy some games from the press box for the next little while.
But perhaps the biggest question when the puck dropped on the 2013 season was which Ryan Miller would show up- the one who had a rough year or the
former Vezina Trophy winning one. After 2 intense games it’s clear to see that the Vezina winning Miller is back between the pipes for the blue and gold and it was a darn good thing against the Leafs who threw everything and the kitchen sink at the goaltender. Miller came up huge time after time, stopping 2 on 1′s screen shots, 3rd chance opportunities, helping kill 5 on 3′s and he got a little help from the iron- It’s fair to say that if Miller had not been on his game the Sabres lose.
There were times that the Sabre simply couldn’t keep up with the fast skating Leafs and that is a major cause for concern. Last year in many close games against the division rivals the Sabres were out-hustled and out-skated- and in a shortened NHL season speed kills. Aside from the speedy Tyler Ennis there weren’t many Sabres able to keep up with the Leafs when they applied pressure. Some how the Sabres will need to fix their speed issue in order to keep up with faster teams and win crucial divisional games.
A Few Notes to Share
- Thomas Vanek assisted on Pominville’s goal giving him 6 points on the season. Not a bad start for Vanek who is looking to rebound from a rough season.
- Ryan Miller is now 28-14-0 all time against the Toronto Maple Leafs, his best record against any single NHL team.
- This is the 6th time the Sabres have kicked off the Leafs home opener with the Sabres winning 3 of those games. Maybe the Leafs should stop allowing Buffalo to ruin their parade?
- The referee’s have now called back 4 goals that had squeaked by Miller either illegally (by hand- Joffrey Lupul or after the whistle)
It was a hard fought battle right to the dying seconds after Cody Hodgson took a tripping penalty with less than a minute to play- but Ryan Miller shut the door and the Buffalo Sabres skated away with a hard fought 2-1 victory. It’s fair to say it was Miller Time in Toronto tonight! Feel free to let me know your thoughts about the Sabres win on twitter @HockeyLife30!