If the Vezina Trophy voting was based on a single back-to-back set, Ryan Miller’s last two nights might just take the 2011-12 crown. Obviously the bigger picture is still mixed for the Buffalo Sabres netminder, but make no doubt about it: he’s red-hot right now.
Miller stopped all 43 Anaheim Ducks shots in a 2-0 win last night and then totally slacked by making all 39 saves against the San Jose Sharks in a 1-0 triumph on Thursday.
More than two great games
While that dynamic duo of contests rank as the peak of Miller’s season, he’s been outstanding in general lately. He’s now 5-0-1 in his last six games and 10-2-3 since it seemed like he hit rock bottom on Jan. 24.
The Sabres still seem like a long shot to make the playoffs (see: this study of the big picture situation), although it’s not out of the question if they can overcome some serious schedule challenges.
After all, they’re surprisingly already up in 10th place behind two vulnerable Southeast Division teams:
8. Winnipeg: 70 points with 16 games remaining
9. Washington: 69 points with 19 games remaining
10. Buffalo: 66 points with 18 games remaining
(click here for the rest of the standings)
Sure, it seemed like Miller actually kinda floundered the last time he fumed in 2011-12 (after Milan Lucic clobbered him), but an angry Miller is looking like a dangerous Miller since Paul Gaustad was traded.
Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.
Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.
(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)
Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.
Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.
The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.
Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.
That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.
If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.
The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.