Like Ferris Bueller, Ryan Miller Needs a Day Off

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) during a game against the Atlanta Thrashers at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY.

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller is upset about the soft goal he yielded to Dion Phaneuf in last night’s eventual Buffalo loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

As you can see, the shot came from right inside the blue line and while it was a good shot, it probably would have been much more stoppable had Miller not been so far out of the crease:

No one is blaming Miller for the loss, but he’s in a tough spot.

He’s the star of a team with just three players with 20 or more goals. He’s started 64 of the Sabres first 76 games, making him one of the NHL’s most used goalies. And his team is now fighting to hang on to the last playoff spot in the east.

To a certain extent, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff hasn’t had much choice in starting Miller. Backup Patrick Lalime has been hurt for much of March and wasn’t all that sharp when he was healthy. Jhonas Enroth, the backup backup, has been solid, but has only nine games worth of NHL experience.

Still, it might be time to give Miller, whose last day off was March 13, the second day of a back-to-back, a game off. It will put Miller in better shape for the playoffs, assuming the Sabres hold onto their spot.

It might also focus the team. Teams sometimes play more effectively in front of backups because they’re more concerned about the ability of certain backups to make big saves.

Miller might be the Sabres most important player. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need some days off, even during a stretch run. He’s played a lot of hockey in the past two years, going back to the 2010 Olympics. Miller can’t keep pushing himself indefinitely.

Last night he looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. And after he surrendered a questionable goal to the Leafs, he looked even more stressed.

It’s nothing a game or two off can’t help, though.

Maybe there’s a Cubs game he can catch.