NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Philadelphia Flyers at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.
Even with 38 games left in their schedule, it’s not controversial or shocking to say that the Sabres won’t make the playoffs. Lately though, they have been decent. That’s thanks in no small part to Ryan Miller’s efforts.
Americans have to be excited when they see what Miller has managed to do under difficult circumstances in Buffalo as we head towards the 2014 Winter Olympics. He has a 1.77 GAA and .946 save percentage since the start of December.
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The Flyers bombarded him with 45 shots on goal in their previous meeting to best Buffalo, but even then Miller still came up with 42 saves. In fact, you would need to go back to Nov. 19 to find the last time the Sabres goaltender stopped fewer than 90% of the shots he faced.
Between his overall abilities and his capacity to make some truly stunning saves, it’s no wonder that Buffalo wants to re-sign him even if he’s 33 years old and the team’s firmly in a rebuilding mode. Although backup netminder Jhonas Enroth has often held his own this season despite his 1-8-4 record, Miller has been the team’s MVP by a huge margin.
For the Sabres, goaltending has to remain their strength because they’re typically not capable of matching a team like Philadelphia in a high-scoring game. Buffalo has averaged just 1.61 goals per contest and has only managed to score more than two goals in a game once over its last nine matches.
The Sabres simply haven’t had any noteworthy scoring threats since they traded Thomas Vanek to the New York Islanders. Even Matt Moulson, who was part of their return in that deal, has just 18 points in 31 games with Buffalo.
Meanwhile, the Flyers have no shortage of skilled forwards or, for that matter, motivation. Unlike Buffalo, every point matters to them as they fight for a postseason spot. Philadelphia’s recent surge was stunted with back-to-back losses to Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers over the weekend, but this is an ideal opportunity for the Flyers to get back on track.