Everyone who watches hockey loves Saturday night hockey, there is just something special about it. What could be better than Saturday night hockey, with the potential of a record being broken. This Saturday night was no different, and Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres reached a milestone in his career with the Sabres. In a 4-3 Shootout win over the New York Islanders, Miller won his 235th game making him the most winningest goaltender in Buffalo Sabres history! "I'm proud of it," said Miller "It's nice. I'm proud of being a Buffalo Sabre. I was really excited coming here as a young player and looking up to Dominik Hasek. I've played with some great teams and some great players. I've had a coaching staff and a support staff that's had my back for a number of years. It's nice, and there's a source of pride from that."
It was well documented and known that Miller was having an extremely rough season, and when you're not playing your best hockey everyone seems to be a critic. There has been a lot of talk from people who'd like to ship Miller out of town, and give the number one job to Jhonas Enroth which would not have been a good decision. This blog has been firmly behind Miller from the start, but to be honest it's tough to shut the critics up or back Miller up, when his stats speak for themselves about his horrific season: Career worst goals against average (2.89) and a modest (.904) Save Percentage. Looking at those stats, you could easily think you were seeing a rookie goaltender's numbers instead of one of the elite goalies in the world. It's been a far cry from Miller's Vezina winning, and Olympic Silver Medal, season. But in the last few games Miller seems to really be getting back his normal, reliable self. His numbers are good but more importantly, the Sabres are going 3-0-1 in his last 4 stars. Going into Saturday's game Miller had let in just 2 goals in his previous 3 games, and had tied Dominick Hasek's record with 234 wins, just a couple nights before.
Going into Saturday's game against the Islanders, it was more than likely that Miller and the Sabres would be skating off with a victory, but it wasn't as easy as one may have originally thought. After giving up 3 goals on the first 8 shots, it looked like Miller would have to wait another game before reaching his historic milestone. The "twitterverse" was ripe with people calling to pull him after the 3rd goal. To his credit, head coach Lindy Ruff stuck with him and it proved to be the right decision. He held the Isles until midway through the third period when a a goal by Paul Gaustad (who "does nothing" according to Canadians goalie Carey Price) tied the game at 3-3's and sent it to overtime and an eventual shootout. In the shootout Brad Boyes and captain Jason Pomminvile scored, to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 victory and give Miller his 235th win. Miller broke the record set by former Sabres goalie Hasek in 59 less games.
Now I'm not saying Miller is a flat out better goaltender than Hasek, in all fairness to myself I never got to see Hasek play with the Sabres so I can't really compare the two of them. I know Hasek was a legend and played in a different "ERA" of the NHL than Ryan Miller is playing in and it's easy to believe Hasek would have won his fair of shootouts. I'd have to say both goalies are incredible and were or are amongst the elite goalies in the league. But the fact that Miller broke Hasek's record in 59 less games, and will likely have a few more seasons in a Sabres uniform, means that record will continue to get larger.
All the so called "true Sabres fans" that say Ryan Miller is an over-rated, washed up goaltender who had 1 good season. First of all those people are not true Sabres fans, second of all Ryan Miller is the Sabres franchise goalie, without him the Sabres would not be nearly as good, far too often Miller has had to carry this Sabres team on his back and of course now that he's needing some help from his teammates everyone hates him. Even during this good run of 4 games, Miller is carrying the team as the offense is still idling in neutral.
Now there is no doubt that Miller has not been at the top of his game for most of this season, but saying he's over-rated is absolutely ridiculous. In order to win a hockey game you have to outscore your opponent, aka score goals, something the Sabres have not been very good at this season. Lastly to all those who say Miller had 1 good season, let's do some simple math/number looking; Miller just won his 235th game, there are only 82 games in a season and Miller plays roughly 60 some odd games a season. (even less this season) So simple math states that Miller could not have possibly had 1 good season, instead he's had about 5 pretty decent seasons.
Miller's teammates were quite happy for their number one goaltender and even though they didn't back him up when it really mattered had this to say about the record:
"I think it's tremendous," Gaustad said of Miller's record-breaking victory. "I think it just shows how good of a goaltender he is. He's a tremendous goaltender -- the best I've ever played with and one of the best in the world."
“He gives us a chance every night. We’re excited and happy for him because he’s an elite goalie,” Pominville said. “I’m glad he was rewarded tonight.”
Congratulations to Ryan Miller on breaking Hasek's record and becoming the franchises winningest goaltender! Here's to a 100 more wins in the future, for Ryan Miller.
NOTE: Editor Donmanski did have the opportunity to watch Hasek play with the Sabres and it is unfair to compare the two goalies. Miller is one of the best of his generation, Hasek, arguably is the best goalie the league has ever seen.