Buffalo Sabres netminder Ryan Miller
said he will be evaluated on a day-to-day basis after participating in the team’s full practice Monday afternoon.
The goaltender skated on his own Sunday and rejoined the team at HSBC Arena today for his longest on-ice session since suffering a high-ankle sprain in February.
Head Coach Lindy Ruff said Miller has shown improvement and although it's not likely he will be ready in time for Wednesday's game against the Florida Panthers, he has not ruled out the possibility, calling it “a long shot with a chance.”
“I’ve only really skated under these conditions once now,” Miller warned. “I want to see how it reacts over the course of the whole day and just see where it goes, because to be honest it felt great at the [Amherst] Pepsi Center [on Sunday] just bouncing around. I was excited about being out today and I got right on the ice and found it was a little more tender than I thought."
Miller would not commit to a date for his return, saying he wants to remain cautious.
“It’s all dependant on how quickly I get myself up to speed and how my ankle reacts. We don’t want to do anything too quick because everyone I’ve talked to, they have all said you’re going to feel great, you’re going to bounce around and feel good and then you’re going to find a situation that can prove to be a setback. I just want to make sure I’m past that point and make sure we did everything the right way.”
Recovering from the butterfly position on low shots and sliding across the net on one knee were the areas Miller identified as the most problematic in practice. On Monday, however, he seemed to display good mobility in the 60-minute workout, even surprising a few of his teammates.
“A week ago he didn’t look anything like he did today, that’s how amazing it is,” Craig Rivet said. “He’s going down and he’s moving his feet around, his ankles, and he looks solid.”
“The problem is as a goalie you put yourself into many different, awkward and interesting positions,” Miller said. “I’ve been trying to go as hard as I can knowing that there’s a difference between a twinge of pain and reinjuring [the ankle]. There is a big difference.
"That’s our next challenge is to get past [the point] where I don’t think about it so I can just be in the play."
Although he said he will continue to try and push himself in practice, one thing Miller said he won't do is rush back into the lineup.
“I want to be play. I want to be out there," he said. "Sitting down and watching it for the last month has really been kind of eating away at me. I want to be out there, but I have to be as smart as I can... Just looking at this from the bigger picture I want to be healthy when I come back so I can give the guys the best chance to win, because a goalie that is not 100 percent right now is not what we need.”