Tonawanda News

Sabres

April 8, 2012

Sabres hit wrong checkpoints in disappointing season

(Continued)

BUFFALO —

Afterwards, Miller cursed out Lucic, who laughed at the Sabres. Veteran Paul Gaustad, who was on the ice for the incident, lamented his inaction. He fought Lucic later in the month.

Despite winning two nights later in Montreal, the Sabres endured a 9-18-5 stretch following the Lucic incident.

The hit exposed the Sabres as weak mentally and physically – a team that couldn’t handle adversity well.

Miller wasn’t his normal self

The 31-year-old had started slumping prior to his concussion, and then played the worst hockey of his career following his return, going 6-9-2 with a 3.32 goals-against average and .889 save percentage during a wretched 18-game stretch, according to statistician Mike Haim.

Clearly, he hadn’t fully recovered from the head injury.

Miller began tending arguably his best goal ever – 20-6-5, 2.04 and .932 – in late January when he found a groove again and his defense reached full strength.

If he had played even average earlier, the Sabres probably would’ve won five or six more games and reached the postseason.

Miller performed poorly late after the Sabres’ huge 5-1 win March 27 in Washington vaulted them into eighth place, posting bad numbers – 1-3-0, 3.74, .877 – to close the season.

They couldn’t score

The Sabres tallied only 211 times, just 2.6 a game, the fourth-lowest total in franchise history for a full season. They had averaged 256 goals a season post-lockout and scored 240 last year.

They turned it on late, however, tallying 51 times in the final 14 games. That’s 24 percent of their goals in 17 percent of the season.

Other than steady captain Jason Pominville, who scored 30 goals and 73 points, almost every other forward endured a terrible offensive season.

Consider:

 – Alleged No. 1 center Derek Roy compiled only 17 goals and 44 points. In full NHL seasons, he had averaged 27 goals and 71 points.

– Drew Stafford scored only 20 goals, 12 less than last season in 18 more games.

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