by PuckStopsHere on 03/29/12 at 12:15 AM ET
The longest currently active winning streak in the NHL right now belongs to the Buffalo Sabres. They have won their last five games. This streak puts them into eighth seed in the East Conference. They are currently two points up on the Washington Capitals who they just beat. I think they are a potentially dangerous team in the playoffs.
In order to win in the playoffs all you need is an unbeatable goalie. If you truly have a goalie who can never be scored upon, you will win the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t matter how good or bad the rest of your team plays. In games that go into sudden death overtime, the game will never end if nobody scores. Since nobody can score on your goalie, eventually you must score to end the game. Thus you will win all your playoff games and win the Stanley Cup. Tim Thomas gave the best approximation of an unbeatable goalie that we have seen in years in last year’s playoffs and Boston won the Stanley Cup. Ryan Miller has the ability to be such a goalie for Buffalo.
Ryan Miller has had a tough year. He suffered a concussion when he was run over by Milan Lucic in November. Even after he came back it took a while for him to get his game going again. His game has been back recently. Miller was the unquestioned best goalie in the NHL as recently as 2010. He is not too far removed from those days and could get back to them.
It would be wrong to suggest that Buffalo has nothing except for goaltending. They have some solid offensive players. Jason Pominville, Thomas Vanek, Drew Stafford and Derek Roy are all good scorers. Each of them is capable of playing a dominant game that win for their team.
Defence is more of a problem with Christian Ehrhoff out with a knee injury. Tyler Myers, Jordan Leopold and Robyn Regehr will have to carry the load. That is a big demand on them but not impossible. This is particularly true if goaltending and offence hold up.
Never count out goaltending in the playoffs. There are many recent examples of teams having playoff success as a result of strong goaltending. Tim Thomas last year in Boston is a strong example. Jaroslav Halak of the 2010 Montreal Canadiens probably better relates to Buffalo this year. Montreal was a low seed who upset Washington and Pittsburgh to make the semi-finals. I could imagine Buffalo having a similar showing if Miller can play well in the playoffs.
Of the probable low seeds in the playoffs, Buffalo is the team that most scares me right now. They are playing very well and have strong goaltending. That could be a formula for a solid playoff run.
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