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Ryan Miller: Where Pucks Fear to Tread (#SeedsOfGreatness Update!)

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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.

MillerFrontToBack 245x300 Ryan Miller: Where Pucks Fear to Tread (#SeedsOfGreatness Update!)

What you don't see is the rest of the Sabres roster, which has climbed onto Ryan Miller's shoulders. Don't worry. He's never slouched even one inch under that kind of weight.

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.

#SeedsOfGreatness

Let’s keep this thing going, boys.

Go Sabres.

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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Sabres GIFs: Miller goes “Under the Fridge”

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OK, so this GIF is “under construction.”

There aren’t many highlights on Youtube this morning, which makes GIF construction very difficult. There’s only one Youtube highlight actually – Miller’s stretch-pad save on Corey Perry’s wrap-around (unless you count all the fight videos from last night – I don’t count ‘em as hockey highlights these days).

Still, there was one save of Miller’s that I did not want to see slip away into ungiffed oblivion.

At 17:29 of the 2nd period, there was a scrum in front of the net as Bobby Ryan tried to lift the puck up over a sprawling Miller. Ryan was foiled by Miller’s “reach under the fridge with a ruler to retrieve the cat toy” save. It’s a patented Miller save, actually. At least it is, now:

Heck, all he needed in his glove hand was a flashlight.

advice animals memes first world cat problems favorite toy 300x202 Sabres GIFs: Miller goes Under the Fridge

Bobby Ryan's cat.

We’ll try to transform this into a GIF as soon as possible (Youtube hacks, get to work on that uploading)!

Go Sabres.

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Us Lucky Buffalo Sabres Fans

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Are we lucky as fans or what? After one of the worst slides in Sabres history, they go on a 4-0-1 tear – against good teams even. I feel sorry for anyone who left the First Niagara Center early last night, as they missed a great show.

When it went to a shootout, I felt confident in Miller. He let in a few, but he was solid overall. When Gerbe’s shootout chance came, I knew he would sink it. Hell, the whole game I wasn’t worried about their play. The team is playing tough, confident hockey, with smarts to boot. They’re making crisp, quick passes and working hard in the corners. If they lost, they lost, but they were playing hard most of the way.

I don’t do much “real” analysis about the Sabres, as that’s not really my mindset (or forte). I’m more of a fan who just loves the game and makes bad jokes – but even I can see how much better this team is than just a few short weeks ago.

Perhaps part of it is the German bump, although the Sabres were playing well before the contingent of Mannheim Eagles fans came to Western New York. For more on that go here, it’s a feel good read.  And we could take some notes from their cheering playbook. They were rambunctious, perhaps annoyingly so to some, and even tried to get the wave going.

021112city 300x235 Us Lucky Buffalo Sabres Fans

European hockey fan enthusiasm is a little different than our brand, but we could certainly up the energy a little bit.

Or maybe it was Lindy Ruff. Perhaps his ego overshadowed the players and now that he’s injured they can finally play their best hockey. Now, I don’t believe this, but I’m sure there are detractors out there saying that. But the Sabres started this run well before Lindy fell and busted up some ribs.

Whatever the case, the Sabres are playing tough and are now eight points back in the East. I don’t think I need to say “buckle up”, we’re all pretty aware that this will go down to the wire, much like last year. But you couldn’t write a better script: a billionaire owner takes over the team, spends gazillions picking up all-star talent. The team flounders and all hope seems lost. Then, in Act 3 they get it together and miraculously make a huge comeback.

The only question is how does the story end – do they win it all, or is it just a feel-good drama where the team takes 2nd place but that was further than they ever should have expected to get to?

mighty ducks flying v 300x222 Us Lucky Buffalo Sabres Fans

Maybe James Patrick is using his time at the helm to teach the Sabres the Flying V.

Whatever the case may be, it’ll be damn exciting to be a part of. The Sabres are eight points back now with the Tampa Bay Lightning coming into our barn. We’ve got a lot of good hockey to watch ahead of us the rest of the year.

Go Sabres.

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Ryan Miller Trade Rumors Quashed?

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Well it wouldn’t be a week without some Ryan Miller trade speculation. Earlier this week there was some smoke, even if there might not be a fire, with some nuggets going around the Web that Bobby Ryan of the Anaheim Ducks is being held as trade bait.

That was tied to Miller supposedly saying he’d be willing to be traded. Then some Ducks scouts were at the most recent Sabres game versus the Islanders. Rumors swirled connecting him with his LA-based actress wife Noureen DeWulf and that he might be looking to pull a Gretzky and head to Cali. (Hey, at least then his attitude would match his city! I’m just sayin’. And you can get away with saying anything if you add “I’m just saying” after it.)

Nureen Dewulf With Ryan Miller 199x300 Ryan Miller Trade Rumors Quashed?

Here's the happy couple. She starred in the hit movie, "The 41-Year-Old Virgin Who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It", but I'm sure you knew that.

Well, first of all, Phil at Black & Blue & Gold says there’s nothing to get excited about with the Ducks scouts.  Apparently, it’s pretty routine for scouts to check out other teams and it was mostly likely coincidence.

Pierre LeBrun at ESPN has since contacted Ryan Miller who cleared things up.  He texted Pierre:

“I am proud of being a Sabre for all we have accomplished, and I am excited about the new chapter Terry and Kim Pegula have inspired. I am working hard to get healthy and build my game back to where I want it so I can start to contribute to an effort to build a championship team.”

At least Miller is texting the right things, even if he doesn’t say similar things in post-game interviews.

Miller’s $6,250,000 salary and cap hit would be a huge problem in moving him, even if the Sabres wanted to. The offseason market for goalies wasn’t even that great so perhaps the demand just isn’t there.

On top of that, Bruce Boudreau got hired by the Ducks as their new coach. This might kill the rumored strategy that the Ducks had before hiring him of shopping guys around. Or it might strengthen those rumors. This makes my head hurt and is why it’s probably fruitless to speculate on this sort of thing.

But hey, we’re fans, that’s what we do, right? And I’m just playing devil’s advocate here, but the Sabres have a young guy in Enroth who’s been very solid with Miller out. Jhonas Enroth and Drew McIntyre could do just as well as Miller has this year. Miller could now be labeled “injury-prone” or at least have ongoing concussion symptoms. He didn’t even look at top form most of this year. If we can move him now we can get close to full value for him. That and he’s kind of a jerk in interviews and doesn’t fit the attitude of the city.

Now, I really don’t feel that way, at least mostly. A tiny sliver of me believes that we would be ok without Miller. For the most part though I think we need him and it would be absolutely ludicrous to trade him at this point.

Good thing it looks like there’s nothing at all to these trade rumors. Right?

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Buffalo Sabres vs. Ottawa Senators Game Notes

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This wasn’t a complete game by either team, but for stretches it was one of the most entertaining of the year for the Sabres. Derek Roy’s shootout goal gave the Sabres the 3-2 victory.

Now just some quick hits of thoughts about the game.

gerbe 300x169 Buffalo Sabres vs. Ottawa Senators Game Notes

Gerbe doing his honey badger thing and creating the play that led to a goal. TENACIOUS G!

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I’d heard earlier in the day that Miller was getting the start, then about 15 minutes before game time Enroth got the nod.  Not sure if this was planned or Ruff was just going with the hot hand here.

A group of about 15 or 20 Sabres fans in Buffalo hats with horns were at the game. Think they just showed up randomly like that?  Also, how cool would it be if we had thousands of fans at FN Center with those things? You can get your own here.

Eric Karlsson has a gorgeous mullet that Patrick Kane should be jealous of. Not sure which is better, his mullet or the Zubaz that Gerbe and McCormick were sporting during their trip to the hospital that showed during intermission.

Speaking of sweet hair, Sens’ coach Paul MacLean has a monster walrus ‘stache. And does remind one of Zoidberg.   As @brianbund’s wife pointed out, Lindy Ruff’s mustache is nowhere near as noticable.  Two different men with two very different staches. I want to see an NHL coach mustache competition.

I am much more leery about breakaway / 1 on 1 situations with Enroth than with Miller. With Miller in net I have no worries for that, but more worry lately on the easy goals. Enroth stops the easy ones but isn’t as skilled with 1 on 1′s.

Maybe it was just me, but it didn’t seem like there was a lot of Sens apparel in the arena. As  @ScottyMCSS said, there was a guy in the front row wearing a Billabong shirt. Are you a fan of either team? If so, why not show it? If you like another team that’s not playing, wear stuff from that team. Show your loyalty, dammit!

Early on, we still looked horrible at giving away shorthanded chances. Meh.

Rick Jeanneret is an amazing personality with a unique voice and we love him – but I really had no problem with Kevin Sylvester as play-by-play guy and Danny Gare as color.

I did sort of miss Rob Ray’s interjections. Sometimes he’s thought of as a goonish athlete and RJ has even ripped on him, but he often provides nuggets that make you think. He’s not polished at communications, but that endears him to me. Kind of like a puppy behind the glass. He’s really cute and makes you smile sometimes.

Gragnani may not be nearly as NHL-ready as we’d thought after last year’s playoffs. A good reminder to really think about the sample size we had to go on.

Gerbe is so awesome that I think he’s got the most hockey talent per cubic inch. That goal he created was all about his tenacity. I saw @JoeBuffaloWins call him Taz and I loved it. Add that to the growing nickname list for Gerbs.

Man, Regehr can HIT. Nice to see him smash a couple of guys with perfect timing. How come he didn’t get the Carubba Collision? I thought his were more devastating, but the one they chose had two guys performing a double smack and looked better on the surface. #RegehrSmash

Derek Roy is looking great and perhaps close to back to 100%. He stole the puck away several times and controlled it for quite a while with some slick moves.

The Leino/Roy/Stafford line is looking good, with Leino creating some nice chances.

Win or lose, the shootout is THE most exciting part of a hockey game. However it still seems a little unfair to me that it can decide who gets a point. It takes away the team aspect. If we win, I’m ok with it but if we lose, I’m bitching. I’m guess I’m ok with it so long as it never makes it into playoff hockey.

This game is going to do very little to douse the flames of the Miller versus Enroth controversy by some of the Sabres faithful. Me, I think Enroth is fine … for a BACKUP. He’s still nowhere close to Millsie. That much was evident on breakaways and during the shootout, although Enroth *did* get better as the shootout went on.

That’s it and that’s all. (The whistles go whoo-whoo.) Any thoughts as to this format? Something we should continue? Did it make you chuckle, chortle or interested at all? Please comment below and let us know whether it should be continued.

 

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