Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller might just drag Buffalo back into playoff picture

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The Buffalo Sabres have suffered plenty of disappointments during the 2011-12 season. Injuries have been unkind. Plenty of relied-upon guys have fallen on their faces. Ville Leino’s been bad enough that you really just need to utter the name “Ville Leino.”

Still, some might argue that Ryan Miller’s relative struggles* towered over all the other issues because they depend upon him so heavily.

Miller gets his groove back

Perhaps it makes sense, then, that Buffalo is making a moderately plausible push for a playoff berth on the strength of Miller’s rejuvenation. The American-born goalie is 9-2-3 since seemingly hitting rock bottom around Jan. 24. (He went 2-7-0 in the previous nine games.)

Leap Day’s results might do the most to cause some Sabres fans to make the huge leap of imagining an unlikely playoff berth, though. Despite having just a 4.1 percent shot at the playoffs, Miller’s 43-save shutout of the Anaheim Ducks in a 2-0 win could very well give birth to some wild dreams:

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That prompts the obvious question: can Miller and the Sabres pull it off?

According to Sports Club Stats, the Sabres would need a 12-5-2 finish for a slightly-better-than coin flip’s chance (52.1 percent) while anything in the 12-4-3 range (70.9) or better could give them very good odds.

That doesn’t sound totally outrageous, but Buffalo’s schedule won’t make things easy. Five of its next six and seven of its next nine games are on the road, with the next two games coming against San Jose and Vancouver.

With that in mind, Sabres fans can keep it simple: if the team’s situation actually looks better when the smoke clears in mid-March, then leap away.

* – It’s almost as if the world-class goalie was in some bad ’80s movie where Milan Lucic’s collision gave him amnesia, thus making him forget that he’s an elite player. Admit it; that would result in the greatest injury report ever.

Ducks sign former first-rounder Noesen to one-year extension

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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Forward Stefan Noesen has agreed to a one-year contract to stay with the Anaheim Ducks.

Anaheim confirmed the two-way deal Monday.

Noesen (NAY-sun) appeared in one game in each of the past two seasons for the Ducks, who acquired him from Ottawa in 2013.

The 2011 first-round pick by the Senators has spent most of the past three seasons in the AHL with Anaheim’s affiliates in Norfolk and San Diego. He scored 32 points in 65 games for the Gulls last season.

The 23-year-old Texas native’s pro career has been hindered by two major injuries. He missed practically all of the 2013-14 season with torn ligaments in his left knee, and he missed four months of the 2014-15 season after an opponent’s skate blade nearly severed his right Achilles tendon.

Twitter unveils plan to stream NHL games

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07:  In this photo illustration, The Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced it's initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Twitter went public on the NYSE opening at USD 26 per share, valuing the company's worth at an estimated USD 18 billion.  (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Twitter will live stream for free one Major League Baseball game and one NHL game per week under a new deal.

The agreement announced Monday will allow viewers to watch games nationally that would normally be available only in the two teams’ home markets. Users will not need to be logged into Twitter to see the games.

The baseball games will also be available outside the U.S., with some exceptions. Twitter did not announce the game schedule Monday.

The social media network is attempting to move into live sports streaming through “over-the-top” broadcasts, which do not require a cable subscription. In April, Twitter reached a deal with the NFL to stream 10 “Thursday Night Football” games this fall.

Former Flyers goalie Heeter signs with Detroit’s AHL team

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The Red Wings added some goalie depth on Monday, agreeing to terms with journeyman Cal Heeter.

Heeter, 27, broke in with the Flyers organization a while back and made his big-league debut in ’13-14, appearing in one game.

Since then, he’s bounced around the ECHL, AHL (with the Toronto Marlies) and, last season, split his time between Hamburg of the German League and Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL.

By itself, this signing isn’t especially noteworthy, as Heeter projects to be an American League mainstay next year.

But the contract is kind of interesting when looking and the big-picture goalie situation in Detroit. The Wings now have Heeter, Petr Mrazek, Jimmy Howard, Jared Coreau, Eddie Pasquale and Jake Paterson all under contract for next season, which is an awful lot of goalies.

With that in mind, remember that Howard’s name has been in trade talks for quite some time.


Ex-NHLers Bellemore, Collins sign with KHL’s Chinese club

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HC Kunlun Red Star, the Beijing-based expansion team that will begin playing in the KHL next season, has added a pair of former NHLers.

Sean Collins, who appeared in a pair of games for the Capitals last season, and Brett Bellemore, a veteran of over 100 contests with the Carolina Hurricanes, have agreed to join the club, per Russian news outlet R-Sport.

Bellemore, 28, was originally drafted by the ‘Canes in 2007 and spent most of his professional career with the organization. He signed on with Boston’s AHL affiliate in Providence last year, and appeared in 56 games.

Collins, 27, broke in with the Blue Jackets before signing with the Caps last season. He spent the majority of the year in AHL Hershey and fared well — 16 goals and 39 points in 75 games — and scored three times in the playoffs, helping the Bears advance to the Calder Cup final.