With nine games left to play in the regular season, the Buffalo Sabres have inched within four points of a playoff berth thanks in large part to the play of goaltender Ryan Miller. After struggling to record three wins in the entire month of March, Miller has now matched that total in the first three games of April. The Sabres still face a tough road to reach the postseason, beginning with Tuesday night’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets currently sit two points ahead of the Sabres, and the two teams will meet on Apr. 22 as well. The Sabres have to face many of the top teams in the Eastern Conference in the next two weeks (Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins), so if they do make the playoffs it will be a trip that was well-earned. Miller now sports a 14-15-5 record this season, with a goals-against average of 2.77 and a .915 save percentage. He has been much better than that in the last three games, allowing only five total goals while sporting a save percentage of .950. The first of the three Sabres’ wins came against the Penguins on Apr. 2, as Miller made 19 saves to help his team snap the Penguins’ 15-game winning streak.
While Miller has also shown strength in the shootout (Sunday’s win over the New Jersey Devils) the Sabres would be best served by winning in regulation as much as possible. Miller is 0-1 against the Jets this season, allowing two goals on 28 shots. The Sabres will need to provide him with proper offensive support, and improving a power play that is 0-for-14 over the last four games would be a great starting point.