The Sabres were back on the practice rink Tuesday at the Northtown Center in Amherst. Goaltender Ryan Miller
, who sat out Monday’s practice with tightness in his lower body, participated in the session. While a decision has not yet been made on whether Miller will start Wednesday when Buffalo hosts Boston, he said he was pleased with how he felt on the ice.
“I actually felt better today than I anticipated,” Miller said. “I’ll keep going with treatment and come back tomorrow and see how I feel.”
Miller, who has started 10 of Buffalo’s 12 games this season, talked about tying to help the team get back into the win column.
“We need to win, everyone feels it,” he said. “We’re all disappointed with our start. I want to play, I just want to be sure that I’m giving the guys the best chance. Today felt better than I actually thought it was going to go so I’m happy with that, so I’ll come back to the rink tomorrow and see how it feels.”
Wednesday’s game against the Bruins will mark the Sabres’ first game at HSBC Arena since Oct. 22 and kicks off a stretch of three straight games against Northeast Division opponents. Buffalo will host Montreal on Friday before traveling to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs on Saturday for the first time this season.
With the Sabres searching for their first home win, they will be facing a Boston team that has played well defensively. The Bruins boast a league-best 1.38 goals against average and have outscored opponents 24-11 through their first eight games.
“Boston is willing to play the chess match,” Miller said. “They make it pretty boring, they wait for opportunities and they become opportunistic. It will be a good challenge for us and definitely a good lesson in a patient game. Certainly you have to respect that they can be explosive and exciting on offense because they’re going to wait for turnovers.”
Ruff also acknowledged how well Boston is playing right now, but noted that this is an important game for his club.
“We know how tough it’s going to be. If you’re going to point to a game, you look to these games to turn things around,” he said. “We need that consistent 60-minute effort because that team’s on top of their game right now.”
My first few years in the league I was a little bit more of an offensive guy, a power play guy, working the front of the net. As I’ve gone along I’ve had to kind of take a little bit more of a defensive role, be on the checking line and be responsible defensively and kill penalties.” - Mike Grier On His 14 Year NHL Career
Mike Grier enters Wednesday’s contest with 999 career NHL regular season games to his credit and is set to become the 254th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 career games milestone. According to Ruff, the achievement is a tribute to Grier as both a player and a person.
“It’s been a heck of a career. To play the number of games he’s played, it’s pretty special,” Ruff said. “He’s had a role that has fit his game and he’s been a good leader inside dressing rooms and he’s a good person and I think that’s made him very effective.”
Grier, who has registered 157-213-370 and 500 PIM in 999 career games with Edmonton, Washington, San Jose and Buffalo, was originally drafted by St. Louis in the ninth round (219th overall) of the 1993 Entry Draft. He has seen the game change over the course of his career, saying that it’s more of a skating game now than it was when he first entered the league. He has also had to change his own game.
“My first few years in the league I was a little bit more of an offensive guy, a power play guy, working the front of the net. As I’ve gone along I’ve had to kind of take a little bit more of a defensive role, be on the checking line and be responsible defensively and kill penalties.”
Though 14 seasons is a long and impressive amount of time to play in the NHL, Grier said it hasn’t seemed like that long. “It goes by quick. The years all kind of blend together and you’ve got to enjoy it while you can.”