Niagara Gazette

Pro Sports

November 7, 2008

SCHMITT: Sabres' showing no cause for concern

COMMENTARY

Easy now. Let the numbers ease your pain.

Yes, the Sabres dropped a 5-4 overtime decision to lowly Atlanta on Friday, a team they shouldn’t need fifth gear for. But this was bound to happen. Ryan Miller had been spectacular through seven of his first eight starts, and was due for a clunker.

Buffalo still got a point for Friday’s effort, and still stands a point up on Montreal for the top spot in the Northeast Division, even if they gave a point to a bad team.

Here’s the good news — throw Miller’s bad nights against Tampa and Atlanta out the window and you’re looking at an MVP-type season. Heck, even with those stinkers you could still make the argument.

In Miller’s seven wins he’s given up a total of nine goals. And mind you, these haven’t been cake nights. In five of those games, Miller’s faced at least 25 shots. That’s a .952 save percentage. Incredible.

And he’d be the first to admit he let in a couple softies on Friday, the first a shot from the slot off the stick of Jason Williams that he’d like to have back. The second was an odd play in which Bryan Little beat him on a play Miller usually stops.

If the immediate past is any indication, though, he’ll rebound quickly. After giving up five goals to Tampa, he responded by pitching a pair of goose eggs.

But if you really want to dredge up something, trying to find some petty reason to complain despite the team’s surprising start, here it is — the Sabres’ five losses (two in regulation and three in shootouts or overtime) have come against some pretty inferior opponents. Atlanta has just 11 points, with four off those coming from the Sabres. Ottawa and Tampa both wouldn’t make the playoffs if the season prematurely ended. And Colorado is the Western Conference’s worst team.

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