Ryan Miller Is The [Expletive] Man

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Well, it just wouldn’t be sports in Buffalo if some intrigue wasn’t involved. Here the Bills are doing well (aside from that horrid thumping at the hands of the NY Jets), the Sabres have an 8-5 record, are even winning at home, and we have… dun dun dunnnnn …. GOALIE CONTROVERSY. And yes, I’m aware how long that last sentence was. It’s not quite the Bickering Bills of ’89 or Johnson vs. Flutie, but it’s still entertaining.

A bit of a recap may be required here: Ryan Miller gets yanked after letting in three quick goals against Philly on November 2nd. Young Jhonas Enroth stopgaps a shutout the rest of the way. Lindy Ruff plays the hot hand against the Sabres next two opponents and Enroth gets two wins, only letting in three goals total in those games. Last but certainly not least is Ryan Miller’s attitude when talking to the press.

After practice on November 7th, Miller said:

“I’m here to win. That’s the emotion you get from me. If I’m discouraged, if I’m [ticked] off, that’s just how it is. I want to win. I don’t want to be out there getting scored on. I don’t want to be pulled out of a game. I want to, you know, I want to [expletive] win the game.” (Full notes from TBN here)

Many people are pissed off about this quote but I don’t get it. Nor do I get the vitriol thrown his way. So allow me to rant about him for a bit.

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Can you think of a better guy to have between the pipes in this situation? Well, *besides* the Dominator.

WHY MILLER IS AWESOME

He’s Ryan-freaking-Miller, the face of the team for well near a decade. Most teams would kill for a goalie half as good as Miller. He practices non-stop, sharpening his reflexes every chance he gets and is in top physical shape.

He has all the accolades too: a silver medal, a Vezina, MVP of the 2010 Winter Olympics, over the last five seasons has gotten over 34 wins a year … and he smells like mint julep. (Well, ok, due to the restraining order, I’ve not been able to get close enough to verify this.)

Sure, he’s going to have a stretch of bad games every once in a while – chill people. Even the greatest goalies ever have have rough patches. Hall of Famer Patrick Roy let in nine goals in 1995 in Montreal. He pretty much demanded a trade and went on a win a Stanley Cup the next year. Martin Brodeur has been pulled from games. You think of a great goalie, he’s been pulled at some point in his career. It happens.

The thing about Miller is he’s a professional and knows how to forget bad games. He moves on and is in the moment when it comes time for him to make saves. He does his best each game and that’s the mark of a great goaltender.

That quote, what he said earlier today, heartens me.  It validates how good of a goalie he is. I LIKE that he’s pissed. I LIKE that he’s cussing. I want to see that fight, that heart, that piss and vinegar. He wants to be the guy, for the team to put it all on his shoulders and he’s ready for any challenge.

Now, I like Jhonas Enroth, he’s great. He’s a young guy and he’s an NHL backup. We have no idea how he’d do full-time. The other night against Ottawa his flaws were exposed, if only a little bit; he’s not as strong in one on one situations as Miller is.

Perhaps we should step back and think about just how lucky we are to have great goaltending and even be having this conversation/argument. But I guarantee you that in a few weeks this will all be water under the bridge. (*Guarantee void in all continental U.S. States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the Netherlands and wherever gravity is 9.80665 m/s2.)

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