The last time Ryan Miller played a game in Buffalo — on Feb. 25, 2014 — he was in goal for the hometown Sabres.
He didn’t play there after he was traded to the St. Louis Blues, and a knee injury last season kept him from starting for Vancouver when the Canucks traveled there in February.
Tomorrow afternoon, finally, he’ll play there again.
“To be there so long, then go cold turkey, it is a little bit strange,” Miller told the Vancouver Sun. “My parents are coming because going to Buffalo was a big part of their lives as well. And we’re going to be there a little early so there’s a chance to say hi. They have friends in Buffalo.”
Miller is enjoying a fine — and busy — beginning to the 2015-16 season. He’s started all but one of the Canucks’ 13 games, and has a .923 save percentage to show for it.
Vancouver announced yesterday that backup Jacob Markstrom (hamstring) was off to the AHL on a conditioning assignment, so Miller could see a few more days off shortly. Tomorrow’s game marks the start of a seven-game road trip for the Canucks.
But by the sounds of it, Saturday could be an emotional return for the 35-year-old, because Buffalo really was home.
“You really have to live there,” he told the Sun. “If you just drive into town, you’re not going to see what Buffalo offers. You have to get out and experience it and feel it. I enjoyed my time immensely.”
At least Brad Treliving has kept his sense of humor.
In speaking with the Calgary Sun, the Flames’ GM chose an amusing way to criticize his team’s inability to keep the puck out of its net this season.
“We’re averaging north of four goals against a game,” Treliving said. “I don’t care if you are playing Mary’s Sisters of the Poor, you aren’t going to win like that. That’s plagued us from Day 1.”
Treliving also said all the predictable stuff about not making a trade just for the sake of making a trade, etc.
But he’s right that the Flames (3-9-1) need to figure it out defensively, and that includes the goaltenders. No team has a higher goals-against average than they do (4.23). Columbus is 29th at 3.69.
Heading into tonight’s action, the Sisters of the Poor are two points up on the Flames in the Pacific Division, but Calgary does hold a game in hand.
In a move that may signal the return of Kevin Shattenkirk, the St. Louis Blues announced today that they’ve assigned defenseman Chris Butler to AHL Chicago.
Shattenkirk has been on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. He’s only played three games this season; his last was on Oct. 13 versus Calgary.
Last week, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said Shattenkirk was close to returning.
“He’s days away; he’s not weeks away,” Hitchcock said, per NHL.com.
The Blues’ next game is Saturday in Nashville.
With Shattenkirk, the Blues would have seven healthy defenseman.
Sean Couturier will be back playing center for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight in Calgary.
It will be Couturier’s first game since suffering a concussion on Oct. 21, when he was controversially hit by Boston’s Zac Rinaldo.
GM Ron Hextall is hopeful that the 22-year-old’s return will help his team, which lost its fifth straight game Tuesday in Edmonton.
Couturier has missed the last six contests.
“He’s a big part of our team,” Hextall told Philly.com. “He’s not the most noticeable player. He’s not the guy who steams down the ice on an end-to-end rush, but he does all the little things well. He’s a complete player.”
Rinaldo was not suspended for the hit, despite the injury to Couturier.
Related: Hextall surprised at no suspension for Rinaldo’s ‘irresponsible hit’
The former goalie of the year in Sweden has been playing pretty well in North America.
Linus Ullmark will get another start tonight when his Buffalo Sabres host Tampa Bay.
Ullmark is 2-1-0 with a .930 save percentage since being called up from AHL Rochester. He stopped 29 of 30 shots Sunday in a 2-1 victory over the Islanders.
“It’s amazing what a couple of big saves can do,” Sabres forward Sam Reinhart said of Ullmark. “It can turn two losses into two wins just like that. He’s been great.”
On Friday, Ullmark stopped 27 of 28 shots in a 3-1 victory over Philadelphia.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will start for the Lightning.
— Jaroslav Halak for the Islanders. Mike Condon for the Carey Price-less Canadiens.
— Tuukka Rask likely for the Bruins. Braden Holtby for the Capitals.
— Michael Hutchinson likely for the Jets. Craig Anderson for the Senators.
— Pekka Rinne expected for the Predators. Devan Dubnyk for the Wild.
— Michal Neuvirth for the Flyers. Karri Ramo for the Flames.
— Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Mike Smith for the Coyotes.
— Sergei Bobrovsky seems likely for the Blue Jackets after a 41-save victory Tuesday in San Jose. Jonathan Quick expected for the Kings.
— Al Montoya for the Panthers. Alex Stalock for the Sharks.