Ryan Miller’s nose wasn’t clear Tuesday, but the nasty sinus infection that kept him from starting against the Rangers didn’t prevent oxygen from reaching his brain. His head remained clear. For years, the franchise goaltender has been looking for an opportunity to contend for a Stanley Cup.

The mere mention of the Cup seems laughable now. The Sabres are flailing around the bottom of the NHL standings with a team likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in six years. But after Miller signed his contract three years ago, they had a 100-point season and won the Northeast Division.

Who knows?

Maybe they could win the Cup.

“I’ve been trying to think that for a while,” Miller said. “We haven’t really found our identity a few times. We had our identity in 2010. We played defense. We had a core of good guys on D. Whether we could keep those guys or not, or whether it worked out, it went in another direction for us again.”

This was not the direction Miller envisioned. The Sabres have managed to spend more money and grow progressively worse since Terry Pegula arrived with grandiose expectations and a bottomless checkbook. And that means they have been grossly mismanaged for two seasons if not the majority of 16.