Tyler Ennis never left any wiggle room when it came to Ryan Miller while the two were teammates. That hasn’t changed now that they’re opponents.
“I still think he’s the best goalie in the world,” Ennis said. “The five years I was here I don’t think I scored on him many times in practice.”
The Buffalo center won’t score on Miller in a game, either, but it has nothing to do with his talent. Miller won’t be in net tonight when he welcomes his old team to St. Louis.
The bad news for Buffalo is Miller’s 19 teammates will play. The Blues boast the second-best record in the NHL, while the Sabres … well, you know where the Sabres are.
But this game has nothing to do with matchups for the Sabres. It’s about catching up with old friends, specifically Miller and former captain Steve Ott.
“It’s exciting to play against old teammates,” defenseman Mike Weber said. “Millsie being such a big part of our organization for years and Otter being our captain, it’s going to be fun to see those guys.”
Since the duo was traded in late February, Weber has texted with Miller and talked with Ott, who’s essentially a brother because they lived together in juniors. Weber can sense the excitement brought about by the move.
“They both love it. It’s a different atmosphere, different culture,” said Weber, who is equally excited for Ott. “You play in this league to win a Stanley Cup. As hard as he’s battled for his whole career, for him to get that opportunity to have a chance to compete for the Stanley Cup, that’s huge for him.
“He’s been close a couple of times, so it’s awesome for him. If he plays the way he can, I don’t know who else can take them.”
Other Sabres agree St. Louis will be the team to beat once the playoffs start.
“They’ve got a powerhouse team over there,” forward Cody Hodgson said. “It’s going to be different seeing them on the other side of the ice and trying to beat them.”
One Buffalo player will skate without connections to the departed Sabres. Defenseman Jake McCabe, selected in the second round of the 2012 NHL Draft, is expected to make his professional debut.
The Sabres signed McCabe to a three-year deal potentially worth $2.775 million Thursday. He’ll make the rookie maximum of $925,000 per season. The clock ticks immediately on the deal because he’s 20 years old, so the first year will consist of the remaining seven games.
McCabe elected to join the Sabres rather than return for his senior year at the University of Wisconsin.
The alternate captain led Badgers defensemen with eight goals and 25 points in 36 games this season.
“Thank you everyone for the overwhelming support,” McCabe wrote on Twitter. “Want to also thank UW for the best three years of my life, very excited for this opportunity!”