Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller could return from injury and play this weekend

Buffalo has been rolling right along and they’re within one point in the standings of locking down a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. What’s made that all the more amazing of late is that they’ve been doing it without all-world goalie Ryan Miller the last few games as he’s out with an upper body injury.

While the Sabres have kept moving right along thanks to the solid play of Jhonas Enroth, if the Sabres are going to be a dangerous team in the playoffs, they’ll need Miller in goal and need him to be as good as he’s capable of playing. Fortunately for the Sabres, Miller’s condition is improving and he’s practicing with the team and appears to be heading towards getting a start this weekend.

Joe Buscaglia of WGR 550 AM in Buffalo had this report from Sabres practice:

It seemed as though the teammates shooting at Miller weren’t letting up or aiming low, so Miller presumably is getting closer and closer to making a return. After practice, head coach Lindy Ruff said that Miller felt good after the practice session. When asked if Miller would be good enough to backup at least on Friday against Philadelphia, Ruff told reporters that Miller may even be good enough to start. He then quickly added that they wouldn’t make that call just yet.

“There’s no doubt that he is going to play before the season ends,” Ruff remarked about Miller.

Whether that means we see Miller jump in in a relief effort either Friday or Saturday in Columbus it remains to be seen. It can’t be ruled out we could see Miller get a start against the Blue Jackets but ideally Lindy Ruff wants to see what Miller’s got before the playoffs kick off next week.

It would also help for Buffalo to lock up a playoff spot as soon as possible. The Sabres just need to earn a point to do that be it through a victory or just by making it to overtime, they’ll be in the playoffs. If Buffalo has to go into Saturday’s game in a must-point situation, Ruff might have a difficult decision to make whether to go with the healthy Enroth or the fresh off an injury Miller.

Who are we kidding here? If Miller is healthy enough to play, he’d get the call there no matter what.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.