Dear Buffalo Sabres,
Team USA Fans
That was a comment from the USA/Canada round robin game thread from the mothership. But, can we really expect to have issues from Miller as we go down the stretch of the NHL season. With playing in the gold medal game, Miller played all six games for the United States and captured the attention of the country. But, can those extra games and the weight of the world affect how Miller plays at the end of the season.
The Sabres ran into this situation 12 years ago as well with goaltender Dominik Hasek and the Czech Republic. During the 1998 games, Hasek played in all six games on their way to a gold medal in those games. After the jump, we examine if there was an effect on Hasek and what it could mean for Ryan Miller.
During the 1998 Games, Hasek played a total of six games and a total of 369:36 minutes. Before the Olympic break that season, Hasek played a total of 72 games that season, 49 before the break and 23 after. Before the break, Hasek went 20-17-10 and the Sabres sat at 22-21-12, good enough for eighth in the conference at the time. He had a save percentage of .924 and a goals against average of 2.34. After the break, the Sabres went 14-8-5 while Hasek was 13-6-3 during that stretch. The Sabres went up to sixth in the conference and Hasek had a 1.56 goals against average and .948 save percentage.
The Sabres went to the conference finals during the 97-98 season and Hasek's gold medal gave him added confidence to carry the team basically on his back. Miller's loss in the gold medal game may make him more confident or it may rattle his confidence as the Sabres head into the final twenty games of the season. Miller has played 52 games thus far with a record of 30-14-7 with a 2.16 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.
Miller had that look after he lost the gold medal game like he would never let that happen again. For Sabres fans, we hope this motivates him for the rest of this season and gives him that fire to carry this team on his back to the Stanley Cup.