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Sabres G Miller calls NHL lockout 'waste of time'

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013

"There," he said. "We're reintroduced again, eight months later."

Now it's time to get to work in what will be a shortened season, and for a high-priced Sabres team that was among the NHL's biggest busts after missing the playoffs last season.

Buffalo (39-32-11) finished ninth in the Eastern Conference and was hampered by a rash of injuries, including Miller missing a nine-game stretch because of concussion-like symptoms. On the bright side, Miller hopes the team can pick up where it left off after closing last season on a 15-5-4 roll.

The challenge for Miller is getting himself ready to carry much of the load during a tightly packed stretch of games.

"Hockey-wise, I'm in a pretty good spot," he said. "Mentally, I always kind of knew it was going to be a short sprint kind of situation. It's not a surprise for anyone of us."

Coach Lindy Ruff has already projected that he's targeting Miller to play between 36 and 38 games.

Miller hasn't given any thought to how many games he'll play, but has been accustomed to being the Sabres workhorse.

He's appeared in 59 or more games in each of his past six seasons. That includes 2009-10, when he was the NHL's Vezina Trophy winner after going 41-18-8 in 69 NHL regular-season games, and six more games at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, where he led the United States to win a silver medal.

"I just want to be that guy, and we'll go by that," Miller said. "I think if I'm playing at a high enough level, I'd like to be in net."

Unlike some NHLers who spent part of the lockout playing overseas, Miller elected to stay home. He said the insurance premiums on his contract proved expensive. He also noted that he wanted to make sure there were no lingering effects from the head injury he sustained last year.

Miller spent much of his time working out in California, where he skated between three and four times a week. He mostly worked out with numerous members of the defending Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings such as Jarret Stoll, Brad Richardson, Justin Williams and Rob Scuderi. Several other NHLers, including Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, spent a few months also working out with them.

"I've been skating pretty consistently since June, but it's not the same as playing with your teammates," Miller said. "It's been missing from my life for the past eight months, that's a long time."