Let's start by saying that the Buffalo Sabres played a pretty good game last night but came up short against the Florida Panthers. They out shot them 46-25 and more importantly they out chanced them as well. Unfortunately the outcome was the same because the one area the Sabres weren't better than Florida was on the scoreboard. Florida came away with a 2-1 victory, handing Buffalo their third consecutive loss and their eighth in their last 10 games.
Lindy Ruff had strong words for his team after the game and again today. He put the team through a tough practice and kept repeating the phrase "we will take no time off". Lindy was apparentley upset with the effort at times during the game and he thought the team may have given up after allowing a goal.
"I told them we're going to work harder," Ruff said. "We're going to continue to work harder. There won't be any days off. There won't be any mornings off. We're just going to keep working harder."
Ruff however saved his strongest words for Goalie Ryan Miller and Miller was apparentley not impressed. Ruff thought that Miller would have made the save on the first goal if he hadn't misread the play. Quite frankly I thought he should have made the save on both goals.
The coach said the first goal "was an easy play for Ryan to read".
Told that he may face more odd-man rushes because the coach wants his defensemen to join the play more, Miller … clearly taken aback by the earlier words and getting more emotional by the second … uttered, "Well, I guess I'm going to have to read better," and took off toward the team bus.
I'm not certain just how emotional Miller was but it's plain to see that he was upset by what Lindy had told the media. It's not a bad thing to be upset when criticized, however it is a bad sign that Miller doesn't get the criticism. The criticism of Miller was fair the issue is with Miller himself. Miller NEVER accepts blame for his mistakes or for any of the teams losses. When he plays well and the Sabres lose because of a giveaway, he is quick to call out the team for shotty play...but when is he going to stand up and take some blame!
Is it fair to blame Miller for the loss last night? No absolutely not. Miller was outstanding at times but he allowed two goals on shots that should have been saved. At the other end of the rink Craig Anderson stopped everything the Sabres threw at him. The only puck that found it's way behind Anderson was a one-timer off the stick of Ales Kotalik while the Sabres had a 5-on-3 advantage.
Last night may not have been Miller's fault that the Sabres lost but when was the last time you could say the Sabres won a game because of Miller? Most good teams in the league win games because of their goalie, at some point...I don't think that has happened for the Sabres at all this season.
Remember when Dominic Hasek was between the pipes for the Sabres? This team would win games after allowing 45-50 shots and we danced in the streets like we just won the Stanley Cup. Of course they never did (see No Goal 1999)!
That brings me to the purpose of this entire post...why does Ryan Miller get a free pass with Sabres fans? There are people that truly believe that getting rid of Lindy Ruff is the answer for this team but I don't hear anyone asking for the Goalie to steal us a game. I wish I could give insight into the love affair that the city of Buffalo has with Miller but I really have no idea.
So what is it about Ryan Miller that allows him to get a free pass? Is it because he was the goalie that took the Sabres to the Eastern Conference Finals two years in a row? Is it because he is a likeable guy and very recognizeable in the community? Is it because he beat out Martin Biron for the starting job and nobody thought that Biron had enough to win the Cup? Is it because he is the best goalie we have had since Hasek and Hasek is no longer likeable in Buffalo? Is it because the media give Miller a free pass and many Buffalo Fans have a hard time making their own decisions and rely upon the media to help them make decisions?
I don't know the answer to why Miller gets a free pass but I do know that he is a good but not great goalie. For every great save he makes, he allows an equally weak goal. Teams win and lose games because of goaltending and yet I never hear..."let's replace the goalie"...WHY?