There is no denying that the Buffalo Sabres are a different team with Ryan Miller between the pipes than they are with either Mikael Tellqvist or Patrick Lalime. Ryan Miller has already proven to be a great NHL goalie and he is having his best season since joining the NHL.
The Sabres are currently at 82 points and four points out of a playoff spot. They have earned 67 points in 53 games played by Miller and only 15 points in the games that Miller has not played in. Keep in mind that Miller has played in 53 games but has not started all 53 games he played in.
|2008 - Ryan Miller||53||3099||31||16||5||5||130||2.52||1593||1463||.918||5|
|2008 - Patrick Lalime||24||1297||5||13||3||1||67||3.10||669||602||.900||0|
|2008 - Mikael Tellqvist||4||151||1||1||0||1||8||3.18||84||76||.905||0|
Miller has a much better save percentage than the other goalies and he allows over a half of a goal less than Lalime or Tellqvist. The bottom line is that no matter how difficult the schedule is in the last two weeks, Miller gives this team a chance to win.
Coolman did a nice post and guessed the Sabres would need to go 5-2-0, or some variation of that, in their last seven games. I would guess that would be correct; 10 points would give the Sabres 92 points and a legitimet chance at making the playoffs.
The biggest factor will be getting two points in as many games as possible. Unlike the game in Montreal on Saturday, the Sabres don't play against any teams they are competing with for the last playoff spot. In other words, the loser point is irrelevant in the last seven games.
With Ryan Miller in goal for the Sabres they have a much better chance of winning in the shootout. This was an area of concern for Miller a season ago but he has been outstanding this season. He made all six saves on Saturday and that was not a fluke...he is good in a shootout. In fact his .800 winning percentage (8 wins - 10 shootouts) is the best in the entire NHL this season.
I'm still not predicting a playoff spot but I like the chances with Miller in the lineup. It may be something I have taken for granted this season but now I say protect him...protect him at all costs. he is just too important to this team.