Ryan Miller has been playing at a level reminiscent of his 2009-10 season. The last two nights of hockey have been nothing short of spectacular. After stopping 43 shots against Anaheim on Wednesday (20 in the 3rd), Miller turned away 39 more last night against San Jose.
Buffalo inched two points closer to a playoff spot on the back of Miller. Drew Stafford picked up the lone goal for Buffalo in the victory. The story again was Miller’s stellar play, but his collision with Pat Kaleta late in the third period may end up being the most important storyline.
After making a solid glove save on Brent Burns, Miller was struck by Kaleta as he slid into the goaltender on the tail end of the play. It looked as if Kaleta was helped by Ryane Clowe a little on the way, his momentum carried Miller’s right leg hard into the post. From what I could tell, Miller’s contact with the post was fairly significant. He struggled a bit and avoided pushing with his right leg for the remainder of the game.
Bottom line, if Miller is injured in any significant way, the chances of the Sabres sneaking into a playoff spot would seem to be unlikely. I’ll hold out to see more evidence, but I’m hoping that the pain he was dealing with didn’t go beyond the third period.
The Sabres do need to find a way to start putting pucks in the net on a regular basis. Miller’s play has been stellar, but Buffalo can’t count on Miller to steal every point for the rest of the season.The Sabres have found a way to play decent defensive hockey without Paul Gaustad on the roster, it doesn’t seem as if they miss him too much just yet. But they were chasing quite a bit in the third period and it would seem as if they could use a solid defensive center at times like that.
- I’m glad to see Ryan Miller fully turn his game around. Obviously he is finally healthy and focused on his game. Good on him to have gotten back to the style of goaltending that made many consider him to be elite.
- Ville Leino is a waste playing center. I like his game, he had turned things around playing wing with Buffalo’s better forwards. But his game is wasted, especially at center on a checking line. He’s stuck in a tough situation based on the center and wing depth, but I’d like to see some sort of solution for getting his offense going.
- Drew Stafford has gotten things going a bit. He’s always been a streaky scorer and it looks like he has finally hit a streak. It has been two games, but putting him with Cody Hodgson looks like a great decision.
- Hodgson is showing some of the skills that made him the tenth overall pick in 2008. He’s got slick hands and strong hockey sense. I’ve loved his game these last two nights. Hopefully the goals aren’t too far behind.
- Despite Tyler Myers having a couple rough nights carrying the puck, the Sabres defense has remained strong as a unit. Hopefully Robyn Regehr doesn’t miss any time due to the injury he suffered in the second period.
- Something needs to be done about Buffalo’s power play. The unit has been giving up chances and has been disjointed entering the zone and setting up their rotation. Both units need to find some consistency and soon (I am well aware of the numbers, too). The power play very well could make or break this playoff run.