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Buffalo Sabres: Is Ryan Miller’s Rough Start Reason To Panic?

Ryan Miller Sabres

Timothy T. Ludwig – USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Vanek is off to one of the best starts in his career, yet the Buffalo Sabres sit fifth in the Northeast Division with a 3-5-1 record. After some off-season roster shakeups the team was expected to be a contender, and this was supposed to be another great year from Ryan Miller. So far the former Vezina Trophy winner has been anything but impressive, with a 3.11 GAA and just three wins.

Miller normally starts almost all of the Sabres’ games, so he was one of the first goalies expected to benefit from a compacted schedule. He did not play overseas or in North America during the lockout, and he has cooled off considerably since a season-opening 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. His poor play so far this season is a major cause for concern for the Sabres. The team is eighth in the league in scoring, yet Miller has been unable to stop enough shots to help them win games. The 2011-12 season was largely considered a disappointment for the Sabres, and Miller’s 31 wins marked his lowest total in six years.

Vanek’s eight goals and 19 points lead the league, and youngster Cody Hodgson is having a breakout season. With a balanced offensive attack, serviceable power play and middle-of-the-pack penalty kill, the Sabres should be in a much better position than they currently are. With only two years left on his contract, Miller’s declining production lately has him looking less and less like a star goaltender who deserves $6.25 million a year.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL blogger for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @JKatje or add him to you network on Google.