Out of the useless classes I took at Buffalo State College, if there was one course I could say taught me something about broadcasting, it was Talk Radio (Bob Gaughan teaches it). Pretty much it taught you the ins and outs about getting listeners and having compelling argumentative radio. You gotta get someone pissed off. You gotta take a stand. You gotta make someone stop what they are doing to pick up the phone and get into a fight with the radio host. OK. He didn’t exactly say that word for word, but that’s what I took from it.
Enter Ryan Miller.
As has been documented in these parts for quite sometime, I’m not the biggest Miller fan in the world, but there is no denying that if Miller played average over the last 6 weeks, we would be talking draft and firing everyone. I know Foligno and Ennis have played well, but come on! This is nothing more than the new kids in school being the talk of the town because we go nuts for something new. Cody Hodgson could get two goals and everyone would jump off a bridge because they’d think they could fly because of the pure excitement.
Miller’s numbers have been outstanding over the last two months up until his bad weekend:
It was Miller who sparked the Sabres’ rush up the standings as he entered Saturday 19-4-5 with a 1.88 goals-against average and .938 save percentage since Jan. 24. But the two games over the weekend produced marks of 4.07 and .871 for Miller.
Yes, he had a bad weekend, but so did the rest of the Sabres. They played against the backup’s backup’s backup in Toronto and took on a terrible netminder in Brent Johnson. They should have scored a bunch of goals going away. However, we don’t want to talk about the other shortcomings. Take it away Dave Davis:
- Is it unworthy of discussion that Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville failed to register a shot on goal in a must win game on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre?
- Is it unimportant that the Pens and Leafs went a combined 3 for 5 on the power play while Buffalo put up a goose egg given the same number of chances?
- Did anyone raise their eyebrows at Cody Hodgson being pointless and a -4 over these two monumental games?
I’ll even add to that Davey…since February 1st, the Sabres have scored two goals or fewer 13 times. What does that tell you? Miller is doing the job mostly by himself. I know a lot of fans/media members want to make our offense into the Russian Red army because of the New Kids on the Block, but the stats don’t lie. They are still 18th in goals scored and that comes with most of their top forwards being healthy throughout the year (besides #63). I’m not going to sit here and declare this is just the media trying to pour crap on Miller because their relationship with him has resembled Clark Kent and Lex Luther. Is it possible? Maybe, but I think more media members are effected when they have a player kissing their ass than if they are biting their ass. To me, it goes back to my original statement about talk radio. You want people to disagree with you.
Dave makes great points, but no one is going to call into a radio station to disagree with those because everyone probably agrees with that. You can’t run a radio show on why Derek Roy sucks because everyone believes that and it will turn into a roast. However, you can pick on Miller because of the Millermaniacs and the millerhaters in the region.
If the Sabres don’t make the playoffs, it is because they aren’t good enough as a team. I don’t blame Ruff for riding Miller into the ground because he had no choice. Vanek has disappeared, Roy is Roy, the blueline doesn’t get involved offensively, and Brad Boyes/Nathan Gerbe don’t even play anymore it seems like. Again, Miller was their biggest player in all of this. And don’t give me the #10 injury excuse. Miller’s best years came when his 2nd best d-man was Toni Lydman. I could go on about the injury excuse, but I’ll save that for later.
I still don’t know if starting #30 every night effects him, because there has never been a Miller stat to supply that his play goes downhill when he plays a lot. Don’t give me the Biron years because the Sabres had Drury and Briere. Lalime would have looked like a Vezina candidate on those teams. Look, I’m not kissing Miller’s ass by hoping he will stay here for years to come. I don’t think anyone on this roster is untouchable and if Miller gets you back a top 10 center, I’m listening.
However, he doesn’t deserve to get crapped on after playing some of the best hockey of his career. Are their loop holes I can find with his play? (IE: Playing against backup goalies and crappy teams) Yes. However, there are much bigger problems with this franchise than Ryan Miller.
As much as this heroic run has made me want to take a nap, Miller has been the biggest bright spot. He had a bad weekend, but the rest of the roster, which consists of almost 60 million bucks in salary cap space for this year, should be able to help pick up the slack. Alas, that doesn’t make for an interesting debate.