Thursday, October 29, 2009

Thank God for Ryan Miller

I have to admit, over the last couple of years I've really taken Ryan Miller for granted.  It's been easy to do.  When everyone else was flailing and goofing off and seemingly going out of his way to actively not care at all, Ryan was playing his heart out.  Even when he wasn't playing well, it was clear that he wanted to be, that it bothered him that he wasn't.  And when no one else seemed very eager to take any blame or any responsibility, Ryan was standing there in front of his stall in the dressing room, answering question after question and saying over and over, "We need to be better.  I need to be better."  That should have made him stand out and at times it did.  I'm sure there were a couple of "Thank god for Ryan" posts mixed in with all the criticism the last two seasons.  But probably not enough.  Like the good kid who gets overlooked because the parent or teacher is focusing so much energy on the bad kid, every once in I turned my attention to him but mostly I assumed he'd be good.  Even when he declared before the season that he was going to turn it up this season and be the elite goalie he knew he could be, I kind of nodded to myself and did the mental equivalent of patting him on the head.  "Okay, yes, sweetheart.  You do that, dear."

But wouldn't you know, he's gone and done it at least so far.  There are a lot of things you can credit for the Sabres hot start.  We have four lines that can actually play, the third and fourth lines in particular have been very effective, there's been an infusion of youth and energy in Tim Kennedy and Tyler Myers, Henrik Tallinder has been better than a pile of puke, and everyone seems more focused.  But a lot of it comes down to the guy in the net and the guy in the net is very good right now.  When the Sabres tied up the game late against Tampa Bay, I knew we had not just one point but two points because I knew Ryan wasn't going to allow a goal in overtime or the shootout.  The team hasn't given up a ton of odd man rushes but when we have, I haven't been that worried because I knew Ryan was going to come up with the save.  If I'm feeling that confident in him, I'd imagine his teammates are too, and that makes a huge difference for everyone.  We've all see games - even series - in the last few years where a goalie carries a team.  It's nice to have that kind of goalie in your net, you know?

Not even karate moves keep Ryan down (Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)


Caroline said...

It's nice to have that kind of goalie in your net, you know?

Hear, hear!

Bowl of Pork said...

Karate doesn't bother Miller because he has nunchucks hidden in his pads. How else do you explain the way he gets 3x bigger when he suits up?

Mark B said...

To think two years ago, I was proclaiming him as average. I think sometimes I forget that he was still pretty young when he was thrusted into the leadership role. He truly is elite now, top five in the league.

That contract extension is looking really good right now.

Jonathan said...

Ryan Miller lives vicariously...through himself.