In what it seems to me an indication of how desperate the Buffalo Sabres are to win at this point in the season, goalie Ryan Miller is expected to be back between the pipes Friday night when the Sabres host their division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Last week Miller began skating on his own and participating in light practices. His movement around the crease was limited and he also had difficulty pushing off his injured ankle.
Monday, Miller was able to partake in a full workout, taking shots from his teammates. Tuesday, Miller's ankle responded well and there was even a slight probability that he may return tonight when the Sabres host the Florida Panthers.
Instead, backup goaltender Mikael Tellqvist will get the nod against the Panthers giving Miller an extra few days before he makes his long-awaited return to lineup.
Miller has been sidelined since sustaining a high ankle sprain Feb. 21 when he was knocked down by New York Rangers forward, Scott Gomez. Friday will mark exactly five weeks since the injury.
Over that five week span the Sabres have been on a downward spiral in the Eastern Conference standings. They are now seven points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the eighth and final playoff spot. During Miller's absence, the Sabres have gone 3-7-1, mostly under backup goaltender, Patrick Lalime.
The Sabres have only 10 games remaining in the regular season starting tonight when they face the Panthers. The Panthers are currently in ninth place, five points ahead of the Sabres.
The Sabres would likely have to win out, or at least win eight or nine of their remaining games to even have a remote shot at making the playoffs. Not an impossible task, but a highly improbable one. Hopefully for the Sabres, Miller's return is exactly what they need to climb out of this terrible slump.