Ah, Ryan Miller!………….. Where do I begin when Talking about Ryan Miller. Miller is a name that brings peace and confidence to Sabres fans everywhere, he is the reason I became a Buffalo Sabres fan and could very well be the reason the Sabres win the Stanley Cup this season.
Well lets start of by talking about the background information of the Sabres starting goaltender. First little interesting thing about Ryan Miller is he was an extremely gifted forward when he was younger but when Miller’s goalie played poorly he decided he wanted to be the goalie to help his team. Although not a high draft pick (138th overall) Miller worked his way up and played extremely well in NCAA hockey; becoming the 2nd goalie every to win the Hobey Baker Award. After leaving Michigan State, Miller went to the AHL Rochester Americans. A league in which Miller Destroyed, tieing the record for the most wins in the AHL (41 wins.)
By 2005 Miller had established himself as a force to be reckoned with as the Sabres starting goalie, finishing 11th amongst NHL goalies with a 2.60 GAA. Miller had a surprising 30 wins in his first full season in the NHL. Since the 2005/2006 season Miller has never looked back.
But is was in the 2010 season when Miller really
started to turn heads around the league. Sabres fans already saw the amazing skill of Miller in his previous 4 seasons, but in 2010 Miller was named to the USA Olympic Mens Hockey team as the starting goalie over the veteran Tim Thomas. Miller lead the Olympic team to a silver medal after loosing on overtime to Team Canada; despite the silver medal Miller made quite the impression, named the MVP of the Olympics with a .946 save percentage and later won IIHF best goaltender honors and was named to the All-Star team. After the Olympics Miller gained more and more confidence topping his season of with a Vezina Trophy finishing the season with a 2.22 GAA and a .929 SV% leading the Sabres to a Northeast Division title. Right now Miller is trying to come back from a less than stellar 2010/2011 campaign, which saw Miller’s stats drop and many fans jumping of the Miller Bandwagon. The bottom line of Miller’s play last season, was that he was overworked and tired! In 2010 Miller was between the pipes for 82 games between the NHL regular season, playoffs and the Olympics which is way to many for a goaltender; that is like playing every game in the NHL regular season, every top notch goalie has their back-up play about 25 games to rest the starters. Unfortunately their was no real decent back-up goaltender for the sabres until Enroth surfaced and played respectably enough to get a few wins. So Miller was the workhorse for the sabres often playing stretches of 30 or more games without a rest. So like earlier stated Miller was overworked and more susceptible to injuries and that was the case as last season. But this season has all the hints of Miller having another stellar year like his Vezina winning season in 2010. With a decent back-up goalie in Jhonas Enroth, Miller will be able to get a rest whenever he needs it to get back on his game. Also with Enroth being able to hold his own between the pipes it will give Miller a “fire under his butt” if he doesn’t play well he can and will be replaced by Enroth. An example of this is the Thomas- Rask situation on Boston. But with a revamped defensive core, a rested Miller and a back-up that can help Miller there is no question that Miller should be ready to be have another Stellar season. But there is no question that Miller has solidified his spots amongst the top goalies in the current NHL.
One thing that is sure about Miller is that he has never lacked confidence; even with all the pressure and stress Miller had on himself in the last 2 years; I don’t ever recall hearing him complain. He loves the team he is on and believes they can win and loved being the number one goaltender who every one calls on.When I think of the sabres 9/10 times the first player that comes to my mind is Ryan Miller, I think he is the face of the franchise as almost everyone knows who Miller is.
Alright lets talk about this upcoming season its the only thing that matters the only thing Miller and the sabres can effect; the past is the past. With many already saying that Miller is already in mid season form, the sabres should be able to surprise a few teams early on and snag a couple extra wins. This season Miller is likely to play less games than previous seasons, especially with the sabres having 21 back-to-back games on the schedule, so we will likely see Enroth in the 2nd game of the back-to-backs; this will allow for Miller to have a few games rest and hopefully be more “fresh” come playoffs and help take the sabres deep nearing a Stanley Cup. So here is how I see things shaking out; (i am bias). The sabres will win their division, Miller will finish in the top 5 of all goalie stats and will continue to be the back-bone of this team and then make it to the finals of the Stanley Cup final. Miller may win his 2nd Vezina trophy in 3 years.
Miller WILL have a dominate year between the pipes and goal tending will be the least of the Sabres worries; if the forwards can score some offense then Miller will provide the defence.Miller could be bringing home some serious hardware after this season. There is soo much more I could say about my favorite NHL goalie; He knows how to read the plays and is always square to the shooters and knows how to make desperation saves; He makes the right saves at the right times to keep his team in the game. Miller can string together a stretch of 15 shots and stop them all, as well as handling the pressure of playing 20-30 games straight. The important thing right now for Miller’s rebound this season is both Miller and his teammates know just how talented Miller really is. The new owner Terry Pegula has given the team more confidence and showed Miller he wants to help cut down his work load; by bringing in some sold D-Men, resigning number D prospect Myers and keeping back-up Enroth around to help with the load. The sabres are heading upwards in the standings and will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Miller does need to put up big number but is not in a put up or shut up situation because he has already proven that he is a elite goalie in the NHL. Its time for fans to jump back on the Miller Bandwagon. Hockey fantasy players should be drafting Miller the first chance they get as he will immensely help your team.
Come October 6th we will see how the Miller and the rest of the Buffalo Sabres will kick off the season in Europe. Well I’ve said all I could now it is time for the sabres to Put up the results or shut-up as a team who can’t make it out of the first round of the post season.
Good luck Miller; cant wait to see you play!
Well I am done rambling on about my favorite goalie and favorite team, in just 3 days…….. yes only 3 days all the questions will become answer as soon as the players hit the ice!