Ryan Miller: Where Pucks Fear to Tread (#SeedsOfGreatness Update!)
Ryan Miller is back to being, well, Ryan Miller.
Miller was pretty dang upset when his friend and man-at-arms on ice, Paul Gaustad, was dealt at the trade deadline.
No matter the way you view hockey, you have to understand how important players like Paul can be and how long it takes to develop a guy that plays that way at such a high level. Winning those faceoffs is not easy. Killing those penalties is not easy. Not a lot of guys are willing to do that job every night, and he was.
Oh, and he also said that if he was GM, that trade would not have gone down. A lot of folks in this town took Miller’s comments as a coup on Darcy Regier, but really, it was just Ryan Miller being Ryan Miller – exactly where/who the Sabres need him to be.
You might remember that Miller reacted much the same when Tim Connolly was lost up the QEW to the rival Maple Leafs. Connolly was no Gaustad, but he was a piece of the core – he was one of Miller’s guys.
And Miller stands up for his own.
Lately, Miller has been doing the same standing up for his own, just not so much in the locker room, but between the pipes. Nothing is upsetting him there, not these days. Lindy Ruff has finally been able to “ride Miller down the stretch” as he promised to do, and Ryan is putting in the best performances of the year – right in line with the best of his career.
He’s now got 82 saves in two consecutive shutouts – some of them routine, a good bunch of them brilliant, and many of them simply stupefying.
And he’s brought the Sabres along with him, as usual, into legitimate playoff contention. Today they sit just four points – just two games – out of 8th in the East.
His focus is the Sabres’ focus: win the moment. Win every moment. Every shift. Every period. Every game. It’s been a long road back to legitimacy, from the first mention of #SeedsOfGreatness, which then became the #Crapshoot, and now seems to be moving back into #SeedsOfGreatness territory again. The way the Sabres are playing, it sure looks like those seeds were indeed planted a few weeks back, and here they are finally, actually sprouting. And what better place to see them bloom, than in Ryan Miller?
He’s the backbone of the team afterall, and now that he’s willing and more than able to carry it along with him, the top 8, and everything else, is possible.
Strip away all the commentary, all the analysis, all the playoff statistical probabilities, all the quotes, the articles, and the blog posts, and you’ve got here has now become pretty clear: a pretty darn strong team, peaking at just the right time, holding fast together during their upwards climb over their Eastern Conference rivals.
It would seem desperate times, and it is. But for Miller and the Sabres, desperation has given way to an heroic focus on winning the moment. A focus whose ultimate moment of convergence – hopefully – will exact itself in the playoffs.
Pretty dramatic stuff. Pretty unbelievable, really, seeing how most of this season has gone.
But none of this should be surprising.
It’s just Miller being Miller, after all.
Let’s keep this thing going, boys.
Be sure to check in with Store716 today – their “Miller ‘Verse 30′” shirt is on sale for 15 bucks until he gives up a goal. Goodtimes.
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