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:

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.

Flames release Ryan Wilson from PTO

Ryan Wilson, Sidney Crosby
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The Calgary Flames have released Ryan Wilson from his professional tryout.

The 28-year-old was trying to make a comeback after missing 79 games with a shoulder injury last season.

Even with T.J. Brodie sidelined because of a broken hand, Wilson still faced long odds to make the final roster.

The veteran will be hard-pressed to find NHL work with another team.

He hasn’t suited up in more than 12 regular season games since 2011-12.

The Stockton Heat, Calgary’s AHL affiliate, also made some news on Sunday.

The club announced that they’ve signed Colton Orr to an AHL contract.

The 33-year-old tough guy suited up in just one game for the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. He has 12 seasons of NHL experience under his belt.

‘Yotes return Dylan Strome to OHL

Dylan Strome, Nikita Nikitin

The Arizona Coyotes have returned Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the OHL.

Strome, 18, was the third overall pick in the 2015 NHL draft.

The 6’3, 185 pounder was hoping to stick with the Coyotes this season, but the team decided to take the conservative approach with their top prospect.

Strome will look to build off an incredible junior season that saw him score 45 goals and 129 points in 68 games.

Strome seems to be taking the demotion in stride.

The team also announced that they’ve assigned goaltender Louis Domingue and forward Matthias Plachta to their AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Domingue, 23, had a 1-2-1 record with a 2.73 goals-against-average and a .911 save percentage in seven games last season.

Plachta, a free agent signing, will begin his first pro season in North America. The 24-year-old had 14 goals and 35 points in the German League last season.