[SBN Buffalo Sabres blog - Die by the Blade]
If you look check out the stats page on NHL.com, you'll see Buffalo's Ryan Miller owns three of the four top goaltender stats in the league right now - save percentage, goals against average and shutouts. The Team USA netminder is having one hell of a year so far:
|2009 - Ryan Miller||29||1718||20||7||54||1.89||862||808||.937||4|
Last night Miller put together a solid game between the pipes, stopping 40 of Toronto's 42 shots en route to his MAF-tying 20th win on the year. The Sabres were outshot dramatically by the margin of 42 to 27 but it didn't matter. It would appear Lindy Ruff had his guys putting on a show of quality over quantity in the shots department. One thing you can take from last night's game is this - Buffalo can provide plenty of threats in the offensive zone. Five different guys registered goals and assists were scattered throughout the corps as well. Hopefully MAF and the blue line are keeping tabs.
You won't see any member of the Sabres battling for a top spot in the league's scoring leaders department. What you will see, as indicated earlier, is a healthy smattering of points across the roster. Derek Roy (7g, 18a), Tom Connolly (6g, 17a), Jason Pominville (7g, 14a) and Thomas Vanek (9g, 11a) take up the top four spots in the points category for the Sabres. Sure it's not all that overpowering, but whatever the Sabres are doing is good enough to put them first in the Northeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference.
Will Miller start tonight in the second part of Buffalo's back-to-back games? I'm going to go out on a not-so-weak limb and say yes. He's single-handily taking on the role of workhorse for the Sabres, starting between the pipes in 29 of Buff's 33 games. However, in the event he doesn't start, then an old name from past Pens glory may make an appearance: Patrick Lalime.
As a kid I didn't quite understand the Lalime situation, and to be honest felt somewhat let down by a guy who didn't want to stay with the Pens. At least that was my perception at the time, before I knew anything about contracts, how they worked and the oh-so-dreaded sports agent.
Lalime still holds the NHL record for longest unbeaten streak for a rookie goaltender at 14-0-2, a milestone he set when he debuted with the Pens in 1996. Then I guess the short-lived glory got to his head and he and Pittsburgh couldn't agree on a contract. So, mainly because of that, he spent the next three years with three different teams in the now-defunct IHL before reappearing in the NHL with the Senators in 1999 after having his rights traded from Pittsburgh to Anaheim, then Anaheim to Ottawa.
Fun fact about the 1998 midseason Pittsburgh-to-Anaheim trade - the Pens gained the rights to Chris Pronger's brother Sean. (And in case you're wondering, he played seven games and scored a single goal). Later that year they sent him off to New York in a trade that ultimately brought Alexei Kovalev to the black and gold.
Ok, enough about Lalime and my repressed memories. We probably won't even see him. And, if we do, hopefully it's because the Pens are lighting up Miller.
UPDATE 9:20AM - Lalime is the confirmed starter for tonight. (Thanks to SLBD on Twitter)
Puck and thread drop at 7. Come on by and chill for the game.