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Miller's ankle a major concern Sabres goaltender may be out for a while

One of the first things Ryan Miller said after hobbling through the Buffalo Sabres' dressing room Saturday night was every ankle sprain is different. That may be true, but a common theme usually accompanies them.

They force goaltenders to miss a lot of time.

Miller had nothing new to report Sunday on the sprained left ankle he suffered the day before. He said by phone it still felt stiff, and he was waiting to see how it would respond to the first few days of treatment.

History suggests injury updates will be coming for a while. Ankle injuries are among the worst ailments hockey players can suffer. Goalies need healthy ankles to move quickly across the crease, and an inability to fully push off could mean the difference between catching up to a 90 mph slap shot or watching it sail by.

It's why netminders have to wait until they are close to 100 percent before returning. But "day-to-day" often becomes "month-to-month."

The Sabres have 22 games remaining, starting Tuesday when Anaheim visits HSBC Arena. Miller is obviously out for that game, and the worst-case scenario has him missing the rest of them.

Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury suffered what originally was termed a "mild" ankle sprain last season. He was out from Dec. 7 until Feb. 28 and missed 36 games.

Sabres prospect Nick Eno, a sophomore at Bowling Green University, sprained his ankle Sept. 24 during a preseason practice. It was termed "day-to-day." He didn't come back until Jan. 9 and missed 20 games.

"You go on the ice one day and it feels good, and you go out the next day and it kills you," the Sabres' seventh-round pick in the 2007 draft told the Sentinel-Tribune (Ohio). "You just need time and patience to recover."

Columbus backup Pascal Leclaire hurt his ankle in preseason and finally opted for surgery last month after it failed to heal.

Detroit's Chris Osgood sprained his ankle in January 2003 while playing for the New York Islanders. He missed seven weeks, 19 games and it still wasn't enough time.

"That was probably the worst injury of my career," Osgood told ESPN in 2004. "As a goalie, an ankle injury really kills your movement and hampers you for a long while. It just lingered with me. I didn't feel totally healed until two months after the season."

Sabres fans looking for a rainbow in that gray matter may find it in Montreal. Carey Price sprained his ankle in January but is back after missing eight games. Of course, he's also 2-8-1 with a .866 save percentage since his return.

The Sabres may have a better idea of Miller's status when they return to practice today after taking Sunday off. The session will be Patrick Lalime's first as Buffalo's starter.

Coach Lindy Ruff said Saturday the starting role belonged to the backup, who is 2-7-1 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .895 save percentage.

"We know we've got a great goaltender in Patrick Lalime, and we've just got to play hard in front of him," center Derek Roy said after Saturday's 4-2 victory over the New York Rangers. "In previous games we haven't played well in front of him, and I think that's what we've got to do next game."

It appears rookie Jhonas Enroth will be Lalime's backup, at least to start. The Maine Hockey Journal reported Sunday night Enroth left the Portland Pirates after their 5-2 loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Enroth has been struggling. He is winless in his last nine starts, losing six times in regulation and three times in shootouts. He has a 3.85 GAA and .888 save percentage in his eight appearances this month, including 20 saves on 25 shots Sunday.

Two veterans may be available. St. Louis waived Manny Legace this month and sent him to the minors. The Sabres would be able to claim him on re-entry waivers at half his $2.15 million salary.

New Jersey may be willing to deal Kevin Weekes. Martin Brodeur is schedule to return from his arm injury Thursday, and Scott Clemmensen will be the backup, pushing Weekes out of the crease.


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