Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller still defines the Buffalo Sabres


If we learned one thing about the Buffalo Sabres last season it’s that they are Ryan Miller’s team and all their promising youngsters and expensive signings hasn’t changed that. The rest of the team isn’t inconsequential — far from it — but by far their most important player is still the man between the pipes.

That became evident last season when Ryan Miller was sidelined with a concussion early in the campaign. For all Jhonas Enroth’s promise, he wasn’t quite ready to carry the Buffalo Sabres in Miller’s absence. Worse, the rest of the team wasn’t able to bail Miller out when he initially struggled after returning in early December.

Miller’s GAA dropped to an ugly 3.12 after an 8-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 17.

As the Buffalo News reported, Sabres owner Terry Pegula made a sarcastic comment at the expense of his goaltenders following the contest and Miller admitted that he needed to work through “some bad habits.”

Perhaps missing roughly a month early on in the season messed with his rhythm, but regardless, it would be another month before he turned things around. The good news is that when he finally did bounce back, he was as dominant as ever.

Miller had a 19-6-5 record, 2.08 GAA, and .931 save percentage in 31 games after the All-Star break.

He still defines the Sabres, but given the unusual nature of his 2011-12 campaign, we’re not sure that last season defines him. If his final months are any indication, Miller is perfectly capable of bouncing back in 2012-13 with an all-star caliber showing — and that, more then anything else, would be the key to the Buffalo Sabres finally living up to the high expectations thrust upon them.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit
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What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. For one thing, Torres is a repeat offender who once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.