UNSUPPORTED BROWSER
NHL

Buffalo Sabres' Ryan Miller saving best for Sochi Olympics bid

Photo: Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images

Ryan Miller has been stellar despite having to play behind one of the NHL's worst teams.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- An Olympic year is again bringing out the best in Ryan Miller.

With USA Hockey to announce its roster Wednesday for the Sochi Games, the 33-year-old Buffalo Sabres goaltender has made his case to be on the list.

"It's very special to represent your country at that magnitude, where everyone's focused watching it," Miller said. "For me, it's another chance to play in the tournament where there's a chance to win something. You focus, take it seriously."

It would be difficult for general manager David Poile to ignore Miller, who starred on the Americans' silver-medal team at the Vancouver Games in 2010.

Miller has established himself as by far the best player on a Sabres team that has an NHL-worst 11-24-4 record entering its game at Winnipeg on Tuesday night.

NHL Power Rankings: Miller saving Sabres' season

Though Miller has a subpar 2.69 goals-against average and a 10-17-1 record, he leads the NHL with 948 saves and is tied for seventh with a 92.7 save percentage among goalies with 15 or more games.

His form recalls that of the 2009-10 season, Miller's finest year domestically and internationally. That's when he won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender and was honored as the Olympic tournament MVP.

"Looking back on last time, it was great," Miller said. "The city of Vancouver was great. My family, my wife, my friends who got to come, they had a great time. It was a great experience, seeing events, seeing the city."

One part, however, wasn't so great. Sidney Crosby scored in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 victory and the gold medal. It's a goal Miller doesn't like to discuss.

But it hasn't stopped him from wanting another chance. And so far he's outplayed his fellow American goalies this season, including Detroit's Jimmy Howard and Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick.

Miller, of late, has stepped up his game. He has a 5-1-1 record and a 1.65 goals-against average in his past seven games. And he was named the NHL's second star on Monday, a day after he stopped a career-best 49 shots - and six more including in the shootout - of a 2-1 win over Washington.

The effort was not lost on his teammates.

"Olympics or not, he's going to play like that no matter what," forward Drew Stafford said. "If I'm picking the team, he's my guy."

Miller's solid play comes at a time when his career is approaching a crossroads. He is in the final year of his contract. The Sabres have expressed interest in signing him to long-term deal. Yet questions remain as to whether Miller has the patience to stick with a team rebuilding through youth.

"I think he is the Buffalo Sabres in my eyes," defenseman Henrik Tallinder said. "No one knows what would have happened if he wasn't here. To me, he is `Mr. Sabre."'

It's also not lost on Tallinder that Miller has raised his game in time for the Olympics.

"You can't shut your eyes for that," Tallinder said. "That's the kind of guy he is. I think he always puts everything he's got out there. I hope he's going to make it."

Miller's immediate focus is on Buffalo. Yet he's allowed himself to consider what could be in store in Sochi.

"We won silver and people treated us in a very special way," Miller said. "Winning a gold, I don't know how much different it might be. United States is always expected to win. I think people would appreciate it and be excited, and it would definitely be a highlight for me."

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

More NHL

Close

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 4 easy steps:

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Bookmarks.
  3. Select Bookmark manager.
  4. Locate your current Sports Illustrated bookmark, click the Organize menu, then select Edit. You can now easily update the web address of your Sports Illustrated bookmark.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 2 easy steps:

  1. Click the Safari bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. This will open the Bookmarks Bar. In the Bookmarks Bar, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Address field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.

To continue enjoying content from the most trusted name is sports, please be sure to update your current bookmark.

Just follow these 3 easy steps:

  1. Click the Firefox bookmark manager on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Show All Bookmarks.
  3. This will open the library window. In the Library window, select your Sports Illustrated bookmark and manually edit the Location field.

    Our updated web address is http://www.si.com.
Don't Show This Again