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by Kevin Snow / Buffalo Sabres

The Buffalo Sabres returned to First Niagara Center for practice on Monday, with much of the attention focused on goaltender Ryan Miller. Head coach Lindy Ruff surprised many observers when he started Jhonas Enroth on Saturday in Ottawa, keeping Miller in a backup role for a second straight game. Enroth backstopped the Sabres to a 3-2 shootout win, improving his record to 4-0-0 along with a 1.41 GAA and .952 save percentage.

Miller said he was informed of the move by Ruff on team’s flight to Ottawa on Friday night. While he was somewhat surprised by it, Miller said he took the change in stride.

“It’s part of a career. It’s not always going to be roses, not going to be perfect,” said Miller. “I’ve gotta show that I can be ready when called upon, and not let past performances, bad bounces or bad goals or however things come up, affect me on the next shot.

Miller hasn’t been in the Sabres net since the team fell behind 3-0 in the first seven minutes against Philadelphia last Tuesday. For Miller, the biggest adjustment in this process has been trying to get used to having some much time in between game action. He’s expected to get the start tomorrow against Winnipeg, and he’s more than ready to get back between the pipes.

“I always try to use my time to the best of my abilities, and this week’s no different. We had practice time, and we also had some down time when I did what I could to just relax. My last outing wasn’t the way you like to leave the ice. You want to go out and do your job. The next chance I get I’ll be ready.”

Ruff said that having a goaltender of Enroth’s capabilities on the bench can be viewed as a luxury for a team like the Sabres, who play a league-high 21 sets of back-to-back games this season.

“Considering we’re the team that plays the most back-to-back games, it’s a good thing for our team. You can stick a fresh goaltender in there that you know is going to play well in those situations. I think it gives us something that could put us almost on a level playing field against the teams that aren’t playing back to back when we walk into their building. I look at is an equalizer for us.”

Jochen Hecht skated on his own after practice today, and Ruff declared him as being “symptom free” again He rode the stationary bike yesterday, and his workouts will continue to ramped up during the week … Ruff said they hope to have Tyler Ennis back in skates this week, however he was cautious to give a definitive timetable for his return. Ennis hasn’t had any problems working out off the ice since the injury, but being able to comfortably get his foot back into a skate will be the key.

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