This isn’t your typical “they’re over playing Miller” blog. The way the Sabres are currently playing, there’s a different element in play here. There’s a huge mental element that I feel may come back to bite Buffalo in the rear.
While I missed last nights game, I saw the highlights as well as how Miller bailed out the team last night, big time. After getting outshot 43-15, to the Islanders, I don’t think anyone can state that the Sabres won last night. Ryan Miller won that game. By the way, the Isles aren’t exactly a power house in the Eastern Conference. This isn’t the only time that Miller’s done that. While it’s great that Ryan Miller has returned to form, it’s not really fair to him to have this type of play take place in front of him.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; Vanek, Pominville, Hodgson (I say that reluctantly), and Miller are the only players on the team who are pulling their weight. However, that’s not when they’re defending their own end. Miller is being called upon day in, day out to save this time. Tonight, he’ll have to do it against the Bruins. If Buffalo plays like they did last night, they’ll get slaughtered.
Let’s look at the mental aspect of this. I hear people talking about his wife, forget that. Let’s focus on the team playing in front of him. It gets very frustrating having to bail out your team on a regular basis. In the back of his head, he’s got to be continually asking himself when is he finally going to get some help. It is a very difficult situation to be in, knowing that if you’re going to need to be at the top of your game on a nightly basis, and it still may not be worth it.
Also, look at the quality of shots that Buffalo’s opponents continue to get. These are chances that players dream about getting. These shots are point blank shots on Miller. Several odd man rushes are allowed per game. Players are allowed to get phenomenal positioning and shots are allowed to be taken in the slot. How long can we expect Miller to keep doing this?
My concern is that Miller isn’t going to be able to keep doing this. The team needs to improve in front of him. These are high stress situations that he’s being placed in. How long can it continue? The team continues to play in this passive style of play. It’s leaving Miller (or any goalie that is on the roster) hanging out to dry. It’s a strain realizing that you’re in for a barrage just about every night. It get tiresome on a regular basis. He can’t continue to do this for Buffalo.
Solution? Buffalo needs to start playing better. They’re lucky to have 11 points right now. Want to keep Miller on top of his game? Don’t make him be the Sabres savior every night. Make sure he has some easy nights, so that he’s not constantly trying to do everything he can to keep the team in games.
Yes, Miller is playing very well, but to win, they can’t just rely on Miller. The team needs to start playing better in front of him. Otherwise, Miller is going to bet burned out quickly.
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