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NOW DO YOU BELIEVE?

Wednesday, 03.28.2012 / 12:28 PM
By Kevin Sylvester - Sabres "Hockey Hotline" Host / SLY NOTES

- Admit it: six weeks ago you didn’t believe they could do it. Few did. Here’s the truth on what I felt. I knew they could play better and put together another run, but I didn’t think the other teams in the race would let Buffalo back in. They did, and as of today, the Sabres are in. They deserve to be. The players in that room believed in one another, including the new faces that joined the team.  The coaching staff may deserve even more credit. Lindy Ruff never wavered in his belief that his team had a run in them, and continued to show up for work and meetings despite the pain of broken ribs. That may have gained him more respect from the team, a team that he clearly did not lose. Now, all they have to do is finish it off.

- Ryan Miller has been lights out the past two months. He has achieved something this season that didn’t seem possible in early January -- reach 30 wins. It’s the seventh time in his career he has won that many games, an affirmation of his excellence and drive that he has. He’s currently on a five-game winning streak, along with the team, but his two biggest wins came a month ago. The Sabres made the splashiest trades on deadline day, sending Paul Gaustad to Nashville for a first-round pick; and trading Zack Kassian and Marc-Andre Gragnani to Vancouver for Cody Hodgson and Alexander Sulzer. Many saw it as a sign of giving up and moving to the future. The players may have been in a bit of shock heading to the West Coast for tough matchups against Anaheim and San Jose on back-to-back nights. Miller clearly wasn’t. He put the team on his shoulders, playing the best back-to-back set of games I’ve witnessed, shutting out the Ducks and Sharks. I think his performance in those two games is what propelled this team to where they are today.

- Lindy Ruff should be nominated for the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year. My other two candidates would be Kevin Dineen of the Panthers and Ken Hitchcock of St. Louis. With that said, Hitchcock will likely be the consensus winner for turning St. Louis into a beast of a team.

- If you know my wife, wish her happy birthday this week. I will be giving her the greatest gift any woman could want: shower caps of the NHL! Cheap, but thoughtful.

- I want to thank Danny Gare for his work this season on the road broadcasts. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in the booth. I hope you appreciated his knowledge, passion and enthusiasm for the game as much as I did.

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