Long time Sabres goaltender and face of the franchise, Ryan Miller is set to make his return to Buffalo this weekend. Last season the return was cancelled due to Miller’s ankle injury a few nights prior to his anticipated visit. During his Sabres career, Miller was one of the best goalies in franchise history. He led the Sabres to the Easter Conference finals twice, won a Vezina trophy, won a Silver Medal and an Olympic MVP award. In honor of his return here are my top five Ryan Miller moments in a Sabres sweater.
5. The Stick Save vs Boston- 2007
It was a April night in Boston as the season was near an end. The Sabres were pushing for the President’s Trophy, while Boston was near the bottom of the league in the standings. In what seemed like just another night on the 82 game schedule when Miller made perhaps his best save as the Sabres goaltender. Boston came down the ice 3 on 1 and lets re-live how it ended…
4. The Vezina Season
The 2009-10 season was the best of Miller’s career. He had career bests of a 2.22 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. The then 29-year-old added 5 shutouts and 41 wins as he led the Sabres to the playoffs for the first time in 3 years. Miller was the main reason that team finished with 100 points and first in the Northeast Division. Buffalo would go onto lose to
the Bruins in six games in the first round, but the Vezina season may have been Miller’s most memorable year in blue and gold
3. Game on Shutout and Steal Against the Flyers
Buffalo returned to the playoffs again in the 2010-11 season. This time the Sabres met up with the 2nd seeded Philadelphia Flyers. If you recall, Buffalo was a hot team heading into the playoffs, making an incredible turn around and finishing the season 16-4-4. Even though Buffalo was the lower seed, they were the upset pick of round one.
In game one a goaltending battle broke out between Miller and Sergei Bobrovsky. Miller would make 35 saves in game one to steal the game for the Sabres 1-0, thanks to a 3rd period goal from Patrick Kaleta. Miller would add another shutout in game 4, but the Sabres would end up losing the series in 7.
2. Lucic Hit
This certainly wasn’t a good moment for Miller, but had to make the list. Early in the season the Sabres were in Boston for a rivalry matchup. With just under seven minutes in the first period Milan Lucic blocked a point shot from Thomas Vanek and was walking in alone on Miller. Lucic pushed the puck too far ahead and Miller came out to play the puck away from power forward and we know what happened next…
Miller would suffer a concussion on the play and Lucic would get away with only a two minute penalty, no suspension. The Sabres and the remainder of the teams in the league for that matter, were outraged with the leagues decision. This moment was the beginning of the end for the core group in Buffalo. The Sabres never really seemed to recover from the hit and lack of response for the incident. This still in my mind is one of the dirtiest plays I’ve ever seen in hockey and unfortunately for Miller is one of the top moments of his Sabres career.
1. Olympic Journey
No, technically this wasn’t done in a Sabres jersey, but he was a member of the team during this electrifying run. Miller
backstopped team USA to the verge of a Gold Medal in the 2010 Olympics. Sadly for the Americans, Crosby would score a golden goal in overtime of the Gold Medal game and team USA had to settle for Silver.
Even though his team didn’t win Gold, Miller was still named tournament MVP. The Michigan native was 5-0-1 with a 1.35 goals against average and a .946 save percentage throughout the tournament. This included a 42 save performance in a 5-3 victory over the tournament favorite Canadians in the Preliminary Round.
This tournament made Miller a national star in United States. It catapulted his status in the league to an elite goalie and made him a celebrity off the ice. The 2010 Olympics were one of the most exciting hockey moments of my life.
Miller had many great moments in his 9 year tenure with the Sabres. He was the face of the franchise and a leader in the dressing room. Miller is without a doubt one of the best goaltenders in franchise history and Saturday should be a special night. Fans will welcome Miller back with open arms even though he’ll be the opponent that afternoon.