The Buffalo Sabres announced today that Ryan Miller is set to return to team on Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Miller has not played since he was hit behind the net by Scott Gomez in a 4-2 Sabres win on February 21. Since Miller has been out of the lineup the Sabres have plummeted in the standings and now sit in 10th place, seven points behind the Montreal Canadiens. The Sabres are 3-7-2 since Miller has been out of the lineup.
There are plenty of questions surrounding the return of Ryan Miller. Is it too late for the Sabres to regroup and battle their way to the eighth spot? How will Ryan Miller play after missing over a month? How will the ankle hold up for Miller? How many games will Miller be able to play? The questions are plentiful and the answers are unknown but the Sabres only chance is to have Miller in the lineup.
In the absence of Miller the Sabres have relied on patrick lalime and it has been obvious that he is not up to the task. He hasn't been the only problem but he has been part of the problem. The Sabres will turn to Mikael Tellqvist tonight in hopes that he can spark the team to a victory before Miller returns on Friday.
|2008 - Ryan Miller||51||2974||29||16||5||5||124||2.50||1522||1398||.919||5|
|2008 - Patrick Lalime||24||1297||5||13||3||1||67||3.10||669||602||.900||0|
|2008 - Mikael Tellqvist||3||91||0||1||0||1||5||3.30||51||46||.902||0|
The Sabres have obviously missed Ryan Miller on the ice which is apparent by the above statistics but the players have clearly missed his leadership off the ice as well.
I have been critical of Miller and his post-game comments in the past but this season was different. Miller seemed to mature as player and has really embraced his role as a leader of this team.
Whether Miller is at the top of his game or not, he gives this team something they have been lacking the last month...confidence. It seems that the majority of the team is mentally weak and they seem to have a swagger when Miller is behind them.
That brings us back to the original question...Is it too late?