SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Lindy Ruff doesn't need to look at the stats any more than anyone else to know one thing: Ryan Miller hasn't been as dominant as last season.
Miller will enter tonight's game against San Jose ranked 28th in goals-against average (2.77) and 27th in save percentage (.907). Those numbers are a long way from last year's Vezina Trophy-winning career bests of 2.22 and .929.
"I think just OK," was how Ruff assessed the season for the Sabres goaltender. "He’s been a victim sometimes of some pretty tough breaks with deflections and pucks off of people’s skates on the backside. At the same time, he’s had a tough time grabbing that one big save for us at a key time in the game. There’s nobody that wants it more than he does. Short-term, if we can get his goals-against down, it’ll help us win games."
Ruff spent time during training camp talking about how tough it would be for Miller and Rookie of the Year Tyler Myers to repeat their seasons.
"It was one of heck of a year, and to try to maintain even that level I thought was going to be tough," Ruff said. "Our short-term goal now is to try to get him back close to that level. He’s working hard in practice. Obviously, there’s disappointment. He wants it more than any of us.
"When you talk to him – and I’ve had good conversations with him – some of our breakdowns have been tough mistakes. You can push some of those breakdowns away if you get the big save. If you don’t, it makes the mistakes look even bigger."
Miller feels there's time to turn it around.
"You want to be consistent just as a team," he said. "We’ve had some funny bounces and stuff, but that’s going to happen over the course of a season. You’ve got to stick with it. It’s not something you can panic on at Game 39. It’s a pretty long season, so you just clean things up and keep playing. It all tends to even out in the end."