MILLER BACK IN GOAL
Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 1:24 PM
Ryan Miller will make his ninth straight start in goal tonight when the Buffalo Sabres host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at First Niagara Center. Miller has appeared in the Sabres’ last 20 games and is 11-3-3 in his last 18 with a 1.78 goals against average and a .942 save percentage. In his last eight games, he’s 6-1-1 with a 1.60 goals against average and a .952 save percentage.
With all of that work from Miller, backup Jhonas Enroth has been relegated to the bench. He’s made only two starts since Jan. 18 but the Sabres have five games in the next eight days. After tonight’s game they’ll travel to Boston for a game against the Bruins tomorrow night. Ruff said that Enroth would start one of the upcoming games during this busy stretch.
“We put a plan in place and again, [Miller’s] going to need a game [off] here or there,” Ruff said. “The schedule’s been demanding but the fact that we took a couple days on the road trip in between where we didn’t put the equipment on, in talking to him this morning, he felt a lot fresher. We’ve got some back-to-back games that Jhonas will have to play.”
“I’m still chewing on that one. I’ve talked to the players, talked to individuals on that line. Sometimes it’s something they’ve got to work their way through,” Ruff said. “It’s really the first tough segment those guys have gone through in Pommer and Van’s case. But we’ve been going well as a team and I may make an adjustment before the game; I may not.”
Vanek said that getting back on track starts in practice and thought he had a good skate this morning.
“It’s just one of those things where we’re not getting it done, myself included,” Vanek said. “As I said the other day, it’s a game of confidence and when it’s not there you need to start to play a little simpler. That’s what I’m trying to do right now.”
One line that has been clicking for the Sabres has been that of Tyler Ennis, Cody Hodgson and Drew Stafford.
“I thought that line had some good chemistry,” Ruff said. “Maybe not the best game in Winnipeg but I thought the two games before that, they really played well.”
Ennis moved from the center position to the left wing upon Hodgson’s arrival at the trade deadline. Their line created many scoring opportunities on the road trip and scored goals in San Jose and Vancouver. Ennis said that he’s had a good transition moving back to the wing and that he’s enjoyed playing with Hodgson.
“I love it. He’s a really good, well-rounded player,” Ennis said. “He does it all. He’s smart. He understands the game which pretty fun to play with.”
“I don’t have too much expectations but I’m looking forward to it,” Hodgson said. “I’ve never played in this rink but I’ve heard real good things. It’s loud and exciting with a lot of passionate.”
Lines from today’s practice:
Vanek – Roy – Pominville
Ennis – Hodgson – Stafford
Nathan Gerbe – Ville Leino – Patrick Kaleta
Matt Ellis – Brad Boyes – Corey Tropp
Christian Ehrhoff – Mike Weber
Jordan Leopold – Tyler Myers
Robyn Regehr – Andrej Sekera
Forward Cody McCormick and defenseman Alexander Sulzer also skated.
For that stretch to continue, Ruff said that his team will have to shut down the Hurricanes’ top weapons. Captain Eric Staal leads the Hurricanes with 19 goals and 59 points. Brandon Sutter had a goal and assist in the team’s last game and reigning Calder Trophy Winner Jeff Skinner has five points in his last five games (1+4).
“I think they’ve got four or five guys on the offensive side of it who are dangerous,” Ruff said. “Last time when we played them in our building here earlier in the year, we gave them a lot of odd-numbered situations. Some of them were shorthanded. We’ve got to stay away from those types of opportunities.”