It is becoming rather commonplace for Ryan Miller to give up three goals in most of his starts. However, few of his recent outings (save for Detroit) have looked like games where the goaltender has been lost in the crease.
Look to last night’s 4-1 loss to Winnipeg as an example. Miller was dazzling in the first period, stopping 18 of 19 shots, allowing only a tipped shot on the crease in the opening 20 minutes. He was far less busy in the closing periods, facing only 14 shots and yielding three goals. One frightening number concerning Miller is that he was credited with only one save in the third period, the only other shots were Winnipeg goals.
To think a franchise netminder would only turn aside one shot in the closing frame is astounding. Considering the two goals and the pace of the period, it isn’t that hard to fathom. Miller was first beat on a power play tap in by Tim Stapleton as Andrej Sekera was caught floating between two players early on. Antropov scored the final goal after stripping Marc-Andre Gragnani in the corner and beating the defenseman and Jochen Hecht to the crease to deposit a rebound off Miller’s original poke check. I found it difficult to find fault with any of the four goals scored. Only the fourth was a bad goal to give up, but considering the effort given by the players in front of him, Miller didn’t stand much of a chance.
Buffalo’s biggest problem again reared its ugly head last night. The Sabres scored only once and didn’t have too many other chances to boot. It isn’t a stretch to think if the Sabres had scored more than once in the first 40 minutes, the complexion of the third period would have been different for both teams. Finding an answer to the goal scoring woes needs to be first and foremost for this club. When they start losing game 4-3 and 5-4 you can then look squarely on the goaltending. But when the 18 skaters aren’t supporting either goaltender, it doesn’t matter much.
- There was some debate as to Tyler Myers making the right decision to step out on the puck carrier prior to Winnipeg’s third goal. It did indeed look like the right choice. Andrew Ladd has circled up to the hash mark and was becoming a threat to put the puck in a scoring position. Myers made the right choice to pressure the puck, he just was victimized as Antropov stepped off the wall to create a two-on-one situation down low. An unfortunate development on Myers’ read.
- Lindy Ruff place quite a bit of blame on Derek Roy for Winnipeg’s game winning goal. Roy was barely higher than the hash marks when Tobias Enstrom shot the puck. Roy made for a terrific screen as the puck found the far post to get by Miller. As a player with two-way skills, I’m sure Ruff expects more from Roy.
- The effort shown on the final goal of the game was tough to watch. The Sabres were attempting to establish possession in order to pull Ryan Miller, but the puck was 180 feet away from the Winnipeg goal. Gragnani was easily beaten by Antropov in the corner and neither he or Jochen Hecht gave much of an attempt to stop the center as he crashed the net. Give credit to Miller for a successful pokecheck, he needed help to clear the loose puck after.
- Drew Stafford getting a goal was good to see. Assuming he is one of the main trade targets the Sabres have, some good publicity for the winger may be needed to ensure he has value at the deadline.
- Those clamoring for a trade need to understand that if the Sabres don’t receive adequate value for their players, they will be in a worse situation come next season. Unless the trades are pure salary dumps, Darcy Regier does need to be smart about the moves he chooses to make.