I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I want to really build on something that Garth wrote about before.
I back Miller as well.
Let’s be honest about how hockey works. How to assess blame in hockey? On average, 12 forwards are dressed a night, 6 defensemen, and 2 goalies, 1 of which starts. Now, throughout any given night, numerous defensemen can make bad breakout passes or just poor decisions with the puck. Forwards miss numerous opportunities, lose one on one battles in the corners, and also make bad decisions. Plus, look at the amount of time each player spends on the ice. Forwards average 15-24 minutes a game. Defense- 20-30 (pending on the game).
Wait, I left out the goalie. He’s in the game every minute, of every game, with the exception of heading to the bench on a delayed penalty, or at the end of a close game.
The goalie is the last line of defense, so to speak. Plus, he plays the most out of anyone on the ice.
And in turn, he is the easiest to blame.
I’m going to equate this to a quarterback in football. Regardless of what happens in the game, the quarterback is blamed. For example, Matt Ryan wasn’t able to get the offense going and “pull the trigger”, and pull the trigger so to speak when the Falcons lost this weekend. He got the biggest blame. Also, when there is a success, the quarterback gets the credit. Look at Tebow this weekend, and the credit he is getting right now. Regardless of the score, the quarterback is the highest profile player on teams, and in turns, gets the blame, and the glory.
Let’s come back to hockey.
The goalie, is the highest profile player in hockey, and gets the majority of the blame. Luongo got blamed last year in the Cup finals, for bleeding goals to Boston. However, Thomas reaped the rewards, pulling in the Conn Smythe Trophy when all was said and done (he did deserve it). Forget the fact that the Canuck’s offense got shut down, and they couldn’t score at all against the Bruins. Plus, the Bruins have a simply phenomenal defense.
But, and there’s always a but, the goalies job is impacted by those around him.
Let’s look at the 2 goals he’s let in tonight against the Leafs. The first one for Kulemin. Forget that it’s on the power play. He gets the puck all alone in front of the net. Should Miller have stopped that one? Yes, probably. Better question, should he have had to make that save in the first place? No. Absolutely NOT. Let’s talk about Grabovski’s goal. There are 2 Leaf players coming in on Miller, through 4 Buffalo players. Again, probably a shot Miller should have had. A shot that should have been allowed? NO! The fact that anyone got over that blue line, a 2 on 4, that just about became a clean breakaway on Miller, is mind numbing.
However, Miller will get blamed. He has kept this team in the games recently. As I’ve been saying, Buffalo fans should be glad they aren’t getting absolutely demolished every night.
A goalie is only as good as the players in front of him. Let’s be honest, the players in front of any Buffalo goalie right now just aren’t playing very well. Plus, when your team only scores 1-2 goals a night, yeah, you’re going to lose games. Again, Buffalo retreats into their own end, and their opponents get all day to shoot the puck at Miller or Enroth. Buffalo goalies are having to stand on their heads to keep all of these games close. Not to win, to give Buffalo a chance to win.
Plus, everyone has a bad day. I’m not saying this as an excuse, but it’s true. Plus, it’s demoralizing, watching your team not score, and the goalie having to do back flips just to keep it close. That definitely plays a factor in this too. Especially given Buffalo’s play over the past 2 months.
Want to jump off the Miller band wagon? Fine. But, this isn’t a goaltenders fault. Any goaltender in this situation would be struggling too. NO support for him in his own end. And half the saves he has to make, SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!!. Like the 2 that the Leaf’s have scored at this point in tonights game.
I support Miller 110%. He’s the goalie of the Buffalo Sabres. Someday, I honestly believe #30 will hang from the rafters of First Niagara Center. He is struggling this season. But it’s not just him, it’s the whole team.
Finally, remember that hockey is a team effort. Just because Miller is the only guy on the ice for the whole game, doesn’t mean that the other guys don’t impact what he has to do in goal.
Don’t blame Miller. Blame the Buffalo Sabres.