Best News in Weeks

by Ryan

It may not be a timeframe, but it is an update:

Sabres starting goalie Ryan Miller has begun skating on his own to test his injured left ankle, and is confident he is on track to return to the lineup before the end of the season.

Miller said on Monday that he still feels some discomfort when he’s stretching, but noted he has not experienced any setbacks during his rehabilitation.

“I fully expect to play,” he said.

Miller, who has skated on his own over the past two days, has missed nine games since being hurt in the third period of a 4-2 win over the New York Rangers on Feb. 21. The Sabres have gone 3-4-2 without Miller, and sit in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings, three points out of a playoff spot with 13 games left.

millermair

I have a feeling that it may be too little too late, but the Sabres’ problems haven’t been in goaltending lately. Patrick Lalime has been more than servicable in backing Miller up, and neither he nor Miller can play defense or score goals.

It’s funny, the Sabres are only three points out of the playoffs with two games in hand; yet I feel like so much has to be done for it to happen. Am I being too pessimistic, or should I feel like its as hopeless as I do?

I think it’s clear that no matter what happens, the Sabres will be stringing us along for the remainder of the season. It’s only a matter of how optimistic we should be about it.

Thoughts?

2 Comments

  1. Matty Dubs

    I can’t help but have some hope. Statistically, its obviously still a possibility, and we have a lot of games coming up against teams in the Eastern Conference hunt. One of the reasons I don’t have a huge problem with “losing” the game against ATL is that, while we left a point on the ice, we didn’t give it up to a team that matters. Sure, it sucks that we can’t close against the shitty teams, but, on the flip side, our record against likely playoff teams from the East is actually pretty decent. We’re 3-1-1 against the Canadiens, 3-0-0 against NYR, 3-2-0 against the Bruins, 2-1 against the Devils, , 2-1-1 against the Penguins, and 2-1-0 against the Panthers. Only the Capitals (1-2-0) and the Flyers (0-3-0…dammit) have winning records against us, while we’re 1-1-1 against the Canes.

    So, all that said…I hate that we might be out of the playoffs because of our inability to show up against the scrubs of the East. But, I feel like if we can just make it in, this team has shown the ability – rather consistently, I feel – to show up for the tough opponents from our Conference. Thus, while I don’t have a lot of hope that we’ll make it in, I actually feel like we could see a decent run should it happen. The next few weeks will tell – we’re playing most of those teams at least once, and if our records stay consistent (except the Philly one, Jesus that is awful), we might be looking at a sht for glory. Either way, I’ll keep watching.

  2. You asked for my thoughts:
    – Yes, Lalime has been pretty solid in net, and he has played better as a starter than as a backup. However there have been a few goals that he’s given up that I bet Miller doesn’t. The SHG on Saturday is the first one that comes to mind. Yeah Pommers was HORRIBLE in not backchecking enough, but the actual rebound shot wasn’t that great and it just happened to get in the corner. Put Miller in that spot and either A) the rebound doesn’t happen in the first place or B) he saves the rebound (then again, not having Miller around to bail them out might help teach the Pommers and the Roys of this team to get their asses in gear!). So while I am in no way blaming Lalime for where they are, I still think Miller would singlehandedly have them a few points better.

    2) It’s not pessimistic per se to think that they’re done, but I think the situation isn’t completely dire. I see it as two facets. One, their play has been erratic lately, and that seems to have drawn the biggest ire from the fans. The fact that they lost on road to the Isles is seen as an unforgivable offence, but then they come home and blow out the Habs. However, as I commented on Heather’s blog, outside of the top 3 in the conference every team has been as inconsistent and infuriating (and unpredictable). The Pens are for real (as they should be with those stars), and the Flyers are safe, but you tell me that the Habs, Rangers, Canes or Panthers are demonstrably better than the Sabres. I don’t think they are. They might finish with a few more points, but it’s not like those teams aren’t also being plagued by poor seasons from their top players (Plekanec is having a letdown of a season, for one), unfortunate injuries (Lang), and mind-boggling streaks of poor play. Now I’m not excusing these inadequacies in the Sabres. They CAN be better and the SHOULD be. But to think that they’re the only team struggling with these issues is not true. So given that there will be three Sabre-like teams in the playoffs this year, there’s no reason why the Sabres can’t be one of them.

    The other side of the coin is the schedule. This is where I think the Sabres are in trouble. None of the other teams we’re chasing have to deal with the Wings for instance. So if there’s anything that I’m pessimistic about it’s that.