Ryan Miller’s Worst Nightmare: Sidney Crosby

Last night Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres suffered a crushing loss at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby. It would appear that Crosby has Miller’s number; he is one of the few players that Miller has consistent issues stopping. Whether it’s confidence from Crosby or no confidence from Miller, it would appear that Crosby is Miller’s kryptonite.

Every time the Sabres and Pens meet and Sid the Kid is in the lineup, Miller goes from a Vezina winning goaltender to a rookie goaltender playing his first game in the league. Something about facing Crosby has messed Miller up and gotten into his head. (Funny enough, Miller has no problems stopping Alex Ovechkin.) It really is remarkable how Crosby is able to get in Miller’s head.

Prior to last night, the Sabres were on a five-game win streak, had claimed to eighth place and were well on their way to doing the unthinkable. From 15th to eighth in just under two months, it was finally Miller time in Buffalo again.

Until last night he hadn’t let in more than four goals since March 14th, but last night Sidney Crosby managed to change all that; he was responsable for a goal and three assists for four points in a 5-3 game.

So let’s look back at some of the most memorable moments in which Ryan Miller has been duped by Crosby.

1. The 2010 Vancouver Olympics

Miller was phenomenal during the Olympics. He single-handedly took the US Olympic team and put them on his back and carried them through the qualification rounds with a perfect 5-0 record. He also brought them all the way to the gold medal game, ultimately won the MVP of the tournament and came to within one goal of winning a gold medal and proving everyone wrong. During the gold medal game against team Canada, Miller was phenomenal making 36 saves, but ended up losing 3-2 in overtime. Who scored the winning goal? Sidney Crosby, who scored a really odd one on Miller that really shouldn’t have gone in. It was as if Miller had a brain cramp, and Crosby made no mistake capitalizing, handing the US a silver medal.

(VancityAllie/Flickr)

Despite losing the gold medal, Miller finished with a .946 Save Percentage and a GAA of 1.35. But it was Crosby who stopped Miller from his dream of winning an Olympic gold medal. When the puck squeezed through Miller’s five hole and the red light went off, you had to feel bad for Sabres goalie. He worked so hard, beat all odds and took the underdog Americans all the way to the gold medal game but his dream fell short on a flukey goal caused by a brain cramp.

This was the biggest stage where all of the world saw Miller be beat by Crosby.

2. 2008 Winter Classic

Next up is the Winter Classic, where the NHL takes the game back to the great outdoors. The 2008 Winter Classic featured Ryan Miller’s Buffalo Sabres vs. Sidney Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins. It was the first installment of the Winter Classic and all Sabres and Pens were extremely excited that their teams were apart of the pilot, which set an attendance record with over 71,000 people in attendance.

Due to the fact that it was the very first time the NHL took the game outside, the conditions of the ice were rough resulting in the puck bouncing around and the ice melting. As soon as the ice conditions started worsening about half way through the second period, both teams put into cruise control and waited until the end of regulation. Regulation ended in a 1-1 tie, overtime solved nothing so next up was the shootout. In the shootout you guessed it, Sidney

 

Crosby potted the game winning goal in the shootout to give the Penguins a 2-1 win in the first ever Winter Classic. Crosby’s goal once again went five-hole on Miller; it seems like he can always find a way to open and score in Miller’s five hole.

This was one of the first public instances in which Crosby got the best of Miller and this was the start of their “rivalry”.

3. Last night’s 5-3 loss

Waking up this morning and finding out that the Sabres lost and/or re-watching the highlights on TV, you may not realize how big last night’s loss at the hands of Sidney Crosby actually was.

Right now the Sabres are on a historic run, charging back from last in the East to eighth, but getting into eighth isn’t good enough yet. The Sabres are tied with the Washington Capitals for eighth in the East, the last and final playoff spot. Problem is, Washington holds the tie breaker meaning the Sabres need to out-right finish with more points than the Caps. Right now, both teams sit tied with 86 points and four games remaining. Both teams play tonight.

Ryan Miller Sabres
(Jerome Davis/Icon SMI)

The Capitals will be facing the Montreal Canadians and will likely get the two points, while the Sabres are playing the Toronto Maple Leafs and aren’t necessarily a lock on getting the two points as the Leafs will likely be fired up.

They needed at least a point last night, as they face the possibility of being two points behind the Caps by the end of the night. Crosby played a major role in the Sabres’ loss last night, recording a goal and three assists. Not only did the loss end the five-game winning streak, but it also dropped them out of the last playoff spot. It was a rough game for the Sabres and Miller who made just 29 saves to finish with a .879 save percentage.

Once again it’s the mystery of Miller playing less than stellar hockey when Crosby is his opposition. Miller was coughing up rebounds, not catching the puck properly and just all around off his game. If the Sabres want to continue this historic push and make the playoffs they will need Miller on his game. The Sabres’ last two regular season games are against the Flyers and Bruins; not exactly easy wins.

By losing last night they have themselves in a major hole, needing to win both games in a home-and-home against the Leafs and winning at least once in the final two games and then hoping for some help.

If the Sabres fail to make the playoffs, they can look back directly at this game, as the game that was the deciding factor and Sidney Crosby as the one who drove home the dagger.

For whatever reason, Miller is having issues against Sidney Crosby and he should really look into doing something to change his luck. Every goalie has a player or two who is extra difficult to stop, or just seems to beat them more often that not.

Unfortunately for Ryan Miller, this happens to be one of the best players in the world. The bad thing for Miller is the fact that he keeps getting beat by Crosby at the worst possible times. He’s going to have to overcome this and study Crosby harder, as one day the Sabres and Penguins could meet in the playoffs and I for one do not want to see a Crosby show running wild against Miller in the Playoffs.