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Howard Simon's Blog



SIMON: Miller's work load should not be an issue

Maybe the mental stress of the job and the season is getting to Ryan Miller but work load should not be a problem. Factoring in tonight’s game in which Miller will not play, he is on pace to play in 66 games this season. That isn’t a lot to ask of your number one goalie, in fact it would seem almost the ideal number to me.
If you believe the number of games is getting to Miller, then how do you explain last season? He ended up playing in 69 games for the Sabres. Add in the games in the Olympics as well (pressure packed, stressful hockey) and he still recorded career bests in goals against average and save percentage. 
Perhaps you think it’s the fact that he started 31 straight games and is fried. If you look at the schedule, its been pretty kind to the Sabres and despite that long stretch of consecutive games, there have been enough breaks between games that it should not have worn Miller out. He did miss games earlier this season due to injuries and he recently had a 9 day break for the All Star Game.
Playing 3 games in 4 nights is where goalies can take a beating mentally and physically but the Sabres have had to deal with that only twice in the last 2 months, once in January and once in February. If Miller is indeed worm out at this point, they are in big trouble because the taxing portion of the schedule is just beginning. This week features 3 games in 4 nights as will next week. It will happen 3 more times in March and once in April. That’s 9 sets of back to back games the Sabres will face. 
I don’t think Miller is physically fatigued but maybe the mental side of things is taking a toll in terms of the team chasing a playoff spot and Miller not playing at a high level on a night in, night out basis. His current 2.78 goals against average would be a career high and his .909 save percentage would be the 2nd lowest of his career. It wasn’t just Sunday’s debacle against the Islanders, Miller seems to be letting in more bad goals on a regular basis this season. Who knows? Maybe the one game break turns out to be the right medicine but the Sabres need Miller to pick his game up as they approach the jam packed portion of the schedule with a backup goalie who they are afraid to play. If Jhonas Enroth plays well tonight, he should probably expect to be back a few more times this season when the team needs to give Miller a break.


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