For Sabres Miller, the Olympics are unfinished business
> (WGR 550) -- For Ryan Miller and three of his teammates, they’re leaving the pressures of being on the worst team in the NHL for a great experience.
Miller along with Zemgus Girgensons, Henrik Tallinder, Jhonas Enroth and Ted Nolan are in Sochi for the Olympic Games.
For Miller, it’s a different type of pressure. In Vancouver, the Sabres goaltender was the MVP of the tournament and was the biggest reason Team USA was playing Canada for the gold medal. Miller was great in that game too until overtime hit. Sidney Crosby got the puck in front and Miller let the puck skitter through his legs for a goal I’m sure he’d like to have back. A silver medal is also a great accomplishment, but Miller knows he has unfinished business, “It’s disappointing that you have to lose a game to get the silver and you’re a breath away from gold, so it can be a hard award, it’s second place and in this league you don’t really get that, so there’s that feeling it is what it is, it’s second, but you want to be first, that’s what drives you.”
That was four years ago and Miller is 33 now. He said, “I don’t know, looking back on that tournament I feel like my game’s changed, the game of hockey’s changed a little bit. I see things where, man, I could’ve done something different, I could’ve been better in that situation, a little more settled and composed and hopefully bring that type of game that I’ve been working up to for a while and hopefully that’s the type of game that comes out of me when I’m over there.”
Miller wants to be even better this time and he doesn’t think being the reigning MVP means anything going into this Olympics, “It’s like law firms, it doesn’t guarantee any future payouts or verdicts or anything like that, it is what it is, it’s an experience that I will always cherish, but I can’t stack it in net behind me, it’s not going to deflect pucks away, I have to be more veteran and evolved as a goaltender going in this time and I have to playing with a certain kind of energy and confidence.”
Before Miller left on Saturday, he had to have a plan for both here and in Sochi for family, “My mom and my sister are going to watch the dog and my wife and my dad are coming with me and pretty much the rest of the world is going to be shut off for a while.”
Much has been made of how things may not be safe in Russia for these Olympics. Many athletes refuse to let family and friends go. Miller said, “Last time there was more freedom for where the families were at, but this time my family will be within that area where they’re calling secure, so we’ve just talked about keeping things really simple and not making yourself stand out at all, just things you do now when you’re an American abroad anyways. I don’t think they should be too concerned and I think they should be safe.”
Henrik Tallinder has joined four other Sabre defensemen going into a horrible slump the past three or four weeks. That doesn’t matter for this Olympics because he’s already been chosen for Team Sweden along with Enroth. Tallinder said, “There’s been very little contact, but I know what my role is, to be the veteran guy, maybe not get too much ice time, but we’ll see what kind of plan they have.”
Team Sweden can play with anybody in this tournament with players like Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Zetterberg and Daniel Sedin. Tallinder said, “I’m fortunate to be playing with those kind of guys. To get ice time with guys like them, it’s going to be awesome.”
As far as security goes Tallinder said, “I think they’re going to do a superb job, especially with athletes, but not so much for the people that are going to watch us. It’s going to be really, really tough. A couple of areas you have to get by just to get into the arena, so for us I think it’s going to be pretty safe, but it’s a different thing with public transportation.” When I asked him if any family is going he gave a terse, “No.” When I asked if it’s because of safety he just said yes and agreed that “It’s a shame. It’s not what you expect from an Olympics, but it is what it is.”
Team USA’s first game is Thursday against Andrej Sekera and Slovakia.
Sweden’s first game is Wednesday vs the Czech Republic.