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Sabres' Miller should have Olympic spot

There haven't been many wins on the ice for Ryan Miller this season but the Buffalo Sabres goaltender may have won over the folks who will name the U.S Olympic hockey roster with the way he has performed.

The roster will be named during the Winter Classic on January 1st and Miller, who was at the Team USA orientation camp last August, is competing with the likes of Jonathan Quick, Craig Anderson, Cory Schneider and Jimmy Howard for one of the three spots.
Miller was phenomenal in the 2010 games, leading the U.S. to a silver medal but prior experience won't be the only determining factor and quite likely wont be the main factor either. 

Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile is the G-M for the U.S. Olympic team and has said he will put a lot of weight on who is playing well this season.  Throw the won-loss record out the window when it comes to the 33 year old Miller, the elder statesman of the goalie candidates.

Miller is playing behind the worst team in the NHL and on some nights, has a group of defensemen that features three of the six players age 21 or younger.  He has faced 40 or more shots in nearly half of his games.

On a team where a number of veteran players look to have mentally checked out, at least prior to this week's house cleaning, the longest tenured Sabre has played with an intense focus and has been their best player nearly every time he has skated out onto the ice.

Miller has been known to wear his emotions on his sleeve at times during his Sabres career but has shown no signs of frustration, at least not publicly, with the team's season long struggles. He's been sharp from game one, has been seeing the puck extremely well, has given up very few bad goals and has kept the Sabres in games they had no right to be in.  Miller was the main reason why they were able to beat Los Angeles earlier in the week for their long sought after first home ice win of the season.

Going into the weekend, the Michigan State product had a goals against average of 3.28, much higher than his career average of 2.61.  But his save percentage, a strong .916, is exactly at his career number.

Miller has faced the most shots by far of the goalies under consideration for Team USA.  In fact, he's faced ,more shots than any other goalie in the league except Mike Smith of he Phoenix Coyotes.  But Miller's played in fewer games so the Sabres net minder leads the league in average shots faced per game.

Miller's save percentage is better than all of the other goalies competing with him.  Schneider is right behind at .915.  Howard is at .910.  Anderson is .906 and Quick has a .905 save percentage.

Quick was considered the odds on favorite for the number one goalie spot going into the season, thanks in large part to his Stanley Cup ring and Conn Smythe trophy from 2012 but his injury, ironically suffered during a game against Miller and the Sabres, could open the door.  Quick has a grade two groin strain and there is no timetable on his return at this point.  Odds are he will still be on the U.S roster.

Anderson, who was in the Vezina trophy conversation last season before an injury, is struggling along with a disappointing Ottawa Senators team this season so it could come down to Miller, Schneider and Howard for the other two spots.  The Devils are down as they rebuild but Schneider has played very well.  Howard's numbers are good and he has the added benefit of playing for the best team out of this group.  Detroit is 4th in the East and 13th in league standings going into the weekend.