Oh Ryan Miller… second only to your coach, you draw the most criticism of anyone in Blue and Gold. Much like any coach in any sport, when the team does poor, you shoulder most of the blame and when the team does well, you get the most praise. Granted the position of goalie has the MOST impact on the outcome of a game and there is no doubting the subpar 2011 that Miller had, but does Miller deserve the blame?
Positives: Personal opinions aside, a down year from Ryan Miller is still better than most. Just being able to dress the same goalie each night is quite an advantage. Do you think the Flyers would kill to have stability in net? What about the Leafs? As we have seen in the past, when Ryan Miller is on his game, he is among the best in the world. Miller is quick and has even quicker reflexes. He is smart with playing the puck and over the past few years he has been more vocal and even more physical on the ice.
Negatives: Let’s just say Miller wasn’t given the Mr. Softee because he likes ice cream. Miller can give up an easy one far too often. Often times without a screen, one will sneak under his arm or above his glove. Elite goalies do not have this happen on a weekly basis. Ryan Miller is also inconsistent on his aggressiveness. Last year’s playoff series was a perfect example. Miller blanked Philly twice when he played with confidence and played at the edge of the crease. Miller, in the same series, was terrible when the Flyers would park a body in front and disrupt his line of sight. A few got by him and as a response, Miller played back in his net. The rest is history. About 42 goals to the high glove later and the Sabres lost the series.
2012 Outlook: The tide is turning against Miller in the public eye, some are quicker than others to hand the keys over to Enroth. Now we have a daily barrage of rumors, trade speculation and Jerry Sullivan trying to create his own news stories. Not everything is Miller’s fault as he has experienced ever changing blueliners in front of him and Lindy Ruff’s asinine goalie rotations. Miller is susceptible to fatigue and often looks tired mentally as well as physically. Personally I think Miller still has something left in the tank. I hope the court of public opinion doesn’t turn against him, but there is only so many excuse people can make for poor performance. If anything, maybe the marriage jinx has hit another athlete. Plus, I will use any excuse to post pictures of Mrs. Miller.
I eat, sleep and breathe Sabres hockey. I have been into the sport literally my whole life. I started going to games when I was 9 months old and have been hooked ever since. Growing up, I played against guys like Ryan Callahan, Patrick Kaleta, Tim Kennedy and now I have to pay money to watch them in person... Funny how things change.
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