Has Lindy Ruff Learned His Lesson, An Analysis on Ryan Miller

Last season the Sabres played Ryan Miller a career high 76 times, including a stretch of 34 straight games to end the season.  Miller broke down over time and went 18-16 in those final 34 games, which wasn't enough to get the Sabres in the playoffs last season.  Many issues led the Sabres to this issue including the lackluster play of Jocleyn Thibault and the fact that the Sabres needed good goaltending to try and make a run for the playoffs.

This season, Miller has played a total of 49 games this season and with last night's game against the Flyers he will have played in the last eight games.  Things have been rectified in signing Patrick Lalime and playing him more often.  Exactly how much is Miller affected by long stretches.

Games Played In a Row Total Minutes Played Total Goals Allowed GAA Number of Games Played Number of Wins Winning Percentage
1-5 8682 361 2.49 145 92 .634
6-10 2905 127 2.62 51 28 .549
11-15 971 50 3.09 17 7 .412
16-20 573 27 2.83 10 2 .200
20 and Greater 972 48 2.96 16 7 .438

As shown by this chart, Miller's play starts to breakdown by about a half a goal per game against.  This makes sense because the time between games varies and no matter who the goalie is extended play will increase the fatigue for a goalie.  Only certain goalies can handle the load, like Martin Brodeur.  Miller is not one of those types.  

The Sabres have a fairly credible backup in Patrick Lalime who should be trusted.  Lalime has played alright in the cleanup role.  He has a 2-7-1 record with a 3.03 GAA and has lost his last three starts.  But, he also looked good in his fill in role for Miller against the Hurricanes.  Much of his bad play can be attributed to his defense hanging him out to dry. 

Lindy Ruff has a propensity to ride his starting goaltender as much as possible.  Hopefully, he learned from last year that it isn't a good idea.

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