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Monday, 5 December 2011

Goalies return!

On Saturday night Ryan Miller and James Reimer made their returns to the net, after suffering a concussion and concussion like symptoms. Miller and Reimer are my two favorite goalies in the NHL, so I myself was quite excited to see both of them back on the ice. Their returns were quite different; one got blown out by the Bruins and the other got run over AGAIN! So let's dive into these returns and see how it effected the games.

Let's start with Miller's return to the net; in Miller's return we found out that not only can Miller stop pucks he also has a Mean Left hook. This was Miller's first start since getting hit hard by Milan Lucic in a game on November 12th, but unfortunately for Miller and the Sabres, his return was overshadowed by yet ANOTHER player running full speed into Ryan Miller. Jordin Too Too, cut toward the net and ran over Miller full speed, but this time Miller and his teammates, jumped Too Too right after the play. 
"What happened in the game is a joke. It's a joke. All it does is just prove the fact right, that when I said it was open season (on goaltenders), it appears it is open season," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "You get a guy that comes off a concussion, and you've got Jordin Tootoo — Jordin Tootoo running over your goaltender? We used to get a two-minute power play for that. We got a one-minute power play out of that. That's a joke." Miller started landing left jabs on Too Too and it was quite the scene, 4 Sabres including Miller were piled upon Too Too beating the crap out of him; when all the smoke was gone; Too Too received a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct. "He (Tootoo) is going to come hard to the net every time," Miller told The Associated Press. "I got in the mix right after that. I can't sit back and let other guys take advantage of me. "I got right in the pileup and tried to do what I could do, which wasn't a whole lot. But I showed that I am not going to take it." it was extremely sad to see Too Too go and do everything he possibly could to again injure Ryan Miller, anyways I'm not going to get fully into this situation, all I will say is that Too Too rightfully has a hearing with Shanahan Monday Morning. I highly doubt Shanahan will do anything with Too Too, sorry but it's the truth Shanahan has been a little to inconsistent for my liking. Anyways back to the actual game that was happening before and after this incident. Miller played amazing! The way he played on Saturday night would apply that the old Miller is back, which is great news for the Sabres, they need the old Miller in between the pipes if they intend to go far! Miller made several amazing saves, that are potentially the best saves of the season. So I was quite pleased to see Miller play so well and get the Sabres a much needed victory! Miller made 32 saves in his return on Saturday night, and many of them were challenging shots; “I’m happy to be back,” Miller said. “I’m happy to get a win. It has been a while since I have felt like I have put together a game I could pride myself in. It was important for me to go out there and play a solid game. I did the things I wanted to do" The way Miller played instills a hope in Sabres fans that the old Miller is back and ready to win some hockey games for his team. needless to day it was great to see Miller back in the net fighting hard to get the win, I though he played a pretty decent game, but most importantly he got a win. But like always goalies can't do it all on their own, so to help solidify the win for their goalie; Luke Adam, Zack Kassian and Tyler Ennis all put the puck in the back of the net, giving Miller more than enough goal support for him to do his thing. it's fairly safe to say that the Predators outplayed the Sabres, who were limited to just 14 shots, while the Predators racked up 34, emphasizing the importance of Miller's return, I'm not sure if the Sabres would have had the same out come if Enroth had been in net. It was a good thing Miller and his teammates pounced on Too Too as there is no chance for another second chance, Saturday was the only time this season these two teams will meet. Despite the fact the Sabres scored 3 goals, I'd like to say that Miller stole the game for his team; just look at the difference in shots, seems to me like Miller was able to stand on his head and withstand the pressure, sure he let in 2 goals, but no goalie is perfect. I'm happy to see Miller back in between the pipes, can't wait to see what he will do in his next game, if he continues playing like he did on Saturday we should be seeing a few more wins chalking up in the win column for the Sabres.

Let's move on to the Leafs game which marked a surprising start by James Reimer. Why was this surprising? Because Ron Wilson had earlier reported after Friday's practice to the media that Jonas Gustavsson would be starting the Saturday game against the Bruins, then later changed his mind and thew Reimer in the net.  It was a smart move by Wilson to me, in the first 3 meetings between these two teams, the Bruins won by a combined score of 19-5, but since Reimer was 4-01 with a 2.58 GAA and a .912 save percentage before his injury, it seemed like a good move to put the goalie who never seems to get fazed by anything. Plus it was a good move to not throw Gustavsson under the bus, imagine if it had been Gustavsson in net getting bombed, all his haters would be out in full swing. Reimer had missed 18 games since getting hit by Brain Gionta on October 22. But unfortunately Reimer's return didn't quite turn out as well as expected, the Leafs got dominated by the Bruins and lost 4-1. “During November, we’ve been playing really well,” said defenceman Johnny Boychuk, who scored a goal to help the Bruins beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Saturday night – their 13th win in 14 games. “We just needed to make sure we started December the same way.” But the Bruins also had a surprise up their sleeves, while all the media were focusing on Reimer's return to the net, and why head coach Ron Wilson "lied" to them about the starting goalie, the Bruins decided to play Tukka Rask instead of the expected Tim Thomas. “It’s always tough (to sit), no matter if you win or lose,” Rask said. “You’re eager to keep the winning streak going, at least give the team a chance to win.” Reimer stopped 26 shots in his return and all in all had a decent game despite allowing 4 goals; “He was very solid, looked like he hadn’t missed a beat,” Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. “But we didn’t help him very much.” Wilson was very right, the Leafs did not help out their netminder at all, through 2 periods Phil Kessel was the only one with multiple shots on Tukka Rask. At the moment it is looking very tough to beat the defending cup champions who went 12-0-1 during the month of November, and just had their 100th straight sell out game! Kessel has not had a lot of success against his former club, scoring just 2 goals and 5 assists in 16 games against the Bruins, and he was held scoreless in the game on Saturday as well. Grabovski was the one bright spot for the Leafs who scored the one goal for the Leafs, on a sweet one timer around the hash-marks that sneaked right under the cross bar over Tukka Rask's shoulder. So Reimer got back in the net after recovering form concussion like symptoms, not a concussion, just concussion like symptoms! “I was happy with how we played in the first two periods,’’ observed Wilson-pants-on-fire afterwards. “But the third period, they just ground it out and we couldn’t get the puck out of our zone — a few extended shifts, some breakdowns, a bid of bad luck.’’ Reimer was disappointed with his play despite stopping 26 of 30 shots against the Bruins;
“That third goal, to me, it’s embarrassing. I have to make that save. If I have that shot, we have a chance to win.“The way I see it, Rask outplayed me today. That frustrates me more than anything.’ When all is said and done, the Leafs did not help Reimer out, which is something they didn't do, if Reimer had only let in 2 goals the Leafs still would have lost.

So my two favorite goalies were back on the ice on Saturday, and they both played pretty well, I'm very happy to see them both back, and helping out their teams. Reimer has a bright future whether it be Toronto or somewhere else, he is going to be a solid net minder for a long time, Miller is nearing the end of his career, but is showing folks that he can still get the job done as the number 1. Despite his age Miller is and will continue to be a solid number one goalie for a few more years and I think it's safe to say that Miller is coming back to his old awesome form. I'm behind both of these goalies 100 percent. Looking forward to seeing how well these goalies will play now that they are both back and have already faced some adversity this season.

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