It's been six days since Ryan Miller has been in goal for the Buffalo Sabres. The wait ends tonight when Miller gets the top job in the crease back as the Winnipeg Jets come to First Niagara Center.
Coach Lindy Ruff wasn't giving any hints yesterday but said today he made his decision on the flight home Saturday from Ottawa after Jhonas Enroth posted a 3-2 shootout win over the Senators, his second in two days. Miller's renewed vigor and feistiness during and after Monday's practice had no bearing on the choice, the coach said.
"Everything in this case gets blown out of proportion a little bit,' Ruff said. "Probably Jhonas' numbers (4-0-0, 1.41, .952) are a little unrealistic and Ryan's (0-4, 3.91 in the last four) have taken a hit on some real bad plays by our hockey club at the same time. Any player can go through a tough stretch. In Ryan's situation, he's played good but he hasn't played great and I'll be the first to admit that. It might be a timely save here or there that makes a difference."
Ruff said he's sensed a difference in his team since the seven-minute nightmare Wednesday against Philadelphia that saw Miller get yanked after giving up three goals. The Sabres dominated the final 40 minutes of that game and then put together solid efforts against Calgary and Ottawa.
"I think that was a big wakeup call and I tried to use putting the goalie in without taking a timeout as the opportunity to talk to the team," Ruff said. "The referee was lambasting me at the same time but that situation is an eye-opener. We got off to a good start [to the season]. We were a little off track, a little inconsistent and we need to get back to being a lot harder team on the puck and lot harder team to play against when we don't have it."
Miller declined to speak to the media today. That's a little unusual for him, but there wasn't much new ground to cover anyway after he spoke for six minutes yesterday. And it's not unusual at all in the context of the league. Like starting pitchers in baseball, many NHL goalies don't speak after the morning skate on gameday.
No changes to the lineup. Marc-Andre Gragnani remains in at defense and Mike Weber remains a scratch.
Here the audio from Ruff's chat today with reporters below.
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