Lindy Ruff and Patrick Lalime both said they were talking about the weather in their Clarence neighborhoods and not hockey during a chat in front of the net during practice Monday in HSBC Arena. You would think they might have been talking about Lalime playing goal Tuesday night in Montreal and making his first start since Nov. 20.
Ryan Miller has made 31 straight starts and is coming off his worst outing of the year in Sunday's 7-6 loss to the New York Islanders. He's certainly not going to play Tuesday. Ruff, however, wouldn't commit to Lalime, throwing the names of Portland goaltenders Jhonas Enroth and David Leggio, the Williamsville native, into the mix when pressed by reporters today.
The Sabres play seven games in the next 12 days and then open March with eight games in the month's first 13 days. Ruff said he had worked out a schedule of rest with Miller.
"Does Patty play? I'm not announcing what my plans are for the next two games," Ruff said. "But I'll announce that I did have a schedule."
Miller is likely to play Wednesday against Toronto, the team he owns more wins against (24) than any other NHL club. Tuesday's game and Friday's visit from St. Louis look like chances to get him some rest.
Sunday's loss bloated Miller's February numbers to a goals-against average of 3.52 and a save percentage of .880 in five games (3-1-1). He's 12-3-2 since Dec. 28 but his goals-against average is 2.98. During the 31 starts, Miller is 18-9-3, 2.85 with a mediocre .900 save percentage.
"It wasn't quite what we set out to do," Miller said today of the 31 straight starts. "But when I started the year with some injuries, it kind of threw a wrench into that and Lindy wanted to get me rolling. Then it kind of got a little bit long so we're going to have to make a plan to make sure that mentally and physically I'm where I need to be.
"I'm not playing at the level I guess that was expected after last season but I feel like I'm contributing and playing decent. I obviously want to improve and that's the name of the game. You try to improve every day and try to win every day."
Click below for audio from Miller, Ruff and Lalime.