By Mike Harrington
The Sabres are last in the NHL in goals against (37 in 10 games), a hard-to-imagine figure in Lindy Ruff's defense-oriented system. Breakdowns on defense have been everywhere. Faceoffs are a trainwreck -- both taking draws and defending them.
Goaltending has been an issue as well. It's inconceivable that backup Jhonas Enroth sees the net anytime soon, which means Ryan Miller has to get virtually every game. And lately he hasn't been up to snuff either.
After a solid start, Miller has given up four straight four-goal games -- for the first time since November, 2006. He's 3-4-1 overall, his goals-against average of 3.11 is 31st in the NHL and his save percentage of .906 is 21st.
Miller, however, is simply seeing too much rubber. He's fourth in the league in shots against (255) and fourth in saves (231) and simply not getting enough help. I say Miller has had one truly bad game -- the overtime loss here to Toronto. And I hated the George Parros goal Sunday against Florida. But Miller isn't that big an issue right now.
Asked today where he thinks his game is, Miller said, "I think it's fine. I don't think it's horrible. I think I had one sour outing against the Leafs. Everything else I've been pretty sharp. There's been some goals mixed in there I'd like to have back.
"I don't think it's a big departure from where I need to be. I know that's subject to debate and everybody would like to talk about it. As far as positioning, I've been a little more active,a little higher in the crease. I've been with the play. I'll settle down and see games with more of a flow to it.
"We're just trying to get better. There's been areas we've just kind of done it to ourselves in game whwere we made mistakes from forwards to D to goaltending. We just have to clean up the obvious errors. As mistakes happen, you accept them and roll with it and play hockey. But the kind of errors we're making, we're kind of slowing the game down for ourselves and making it easier for the other team."