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In wake of Blues playing wrong playoff note, what becomes of Miller and Ott?

STLPD
Today's St. Louis Post-Dispatch front page (Newseum.com image)

By Mike Harrington

Been reading all over the Internet late this afternoon about Ryan Miller's flameout Sunday in Chicago and it was certainly an epic one, as I discussed in my column in Monday's editions.

Miller said after the game he liked St. Louis and the team and would be interested in returning but has not had any serious talks with the Blues. It would seem his hopes of getting a Henrik Lundqvist-type contract of seven years and roughly $60 million are toast.

Hard to imagine the Blues or anyone else would go much past 3-4 years. Candidates that jump out to me include the Ducks, Sharks, Flyers, Penguins and Islanders. Hard to see a great fit. Several of those teams already have goalies or good prospects. 

There was zero negative chatter in the Blues locker room about Miller, as you would expect. The team's  lack of offense was far more of a talking point.

"Ryan works his butt off," said Blues captain and fellow U.S. Olympian David Backs. "He's a consummate professional and a guy you love having on your team. Some of the plays, tips in front, I don't think it matters who's in the net. They made some good plays."

"It definitely wasn't Millsie," said Steve Ott, who said he was looking for a goaltender interference call on Chicago's second goal.  "He kept us in every single night."

Obviously, most people watching would disagree. Miller wasn't nearly good enough (.897 save percentage) but the Blues weren't beating anybody with 14 goals in six games, no matter who was in the net.

For his part, Ott was stunned by the sudden end to the Blues' season.

Continue reading "In wake of Blues playing wrong playoff note, what becomes of Miller and Ott?" »

It's all over for Miller, Blues after third-period implosion in Chicago

Miller-Shaw
Hawks winger Andrew Shaw celebrates his third-period goal against Ryan Miller (AP Photo)

By Mike Harrington

CHICAGO -- The St. Louis Blues brought in Ryan Miller as what they felt was the last key piece to make a Stanley Cup run. They didn't come close.

The Blues' season ended in stunning fashion Sunday as Miller got burned for four third-period goals in a 5-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks before a roaring, red-clad crowd at the United Center. The Hawks took the final four games of the first-round series to win it, 4-2.

And Miller thus has still not won a single postseason series since 2007, when the Sabres beat the New York Rangers in the second round. Miller has now dropped four straight matchups.

Miller got badly outplayed in the game and the series by Chicago's Corey Crawford, who had a 1.98 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in the six games. Miller had a 2.70 GAA and sickly .897 save percentage. 

"I'm just really disappointed the game didn't turn in our direction," Miller said. "1-1 going into the third is a pretty good situation for us and we didn't get it done."

The Blues had a 17-3 advantage in shots on goal in the second period and the count ws 28-11 through 40 minutes. But St. Louis went 0 for 6 on the power  play and paid the ultimate price when Chicago captain Jonathan Toews broke the 1-1 tie with a power-play goal 44 seconds into the third period.

Things really started to fall apart  when Patrick Sharp scored a fluky goal at 2:01, chipping the puck under Miller on a semi breakaway while getting high-sticked by Kevin Shattenkirk. Miller was caught going too late for a poke-check.

"I was in the right spot and that last tug he kind of chipped it in between," Miller said. "So yeah.  It was just too bad."

"The third goal was a backbreaker," said coach Ken Hitchcock. "The bench was still fine. Our team had great spirit at the start, great spirit for the first and second period. We played as well as we've ever played in this building the way we played the first two periods. The third goal? 'Whoosh' The air went right out of our bench."

Miller then gave up a deflection to Andrew Shaw at 7:30 and Duncan Keith beat him on 2-on-1 at 17:05 to close the scoring. It's the second straight year the Blues have won the first two games of their first-round series and lost the next four; the same thing happened last year against the Los Angeles Kings.

It also means Miller and former Sabres captain Steve Ott will head into free agency. 

"We're through with the hockey part now," Miller said. "We'll have to see where we're at. See how they feel about me. I definitely like St. Louis. I like the guys. I like the team. We'll see what they feel about the playoffs."

"I don't know what my situation is," said Ott. "It's way too early to even think about that. I don't want to think about that. I'm still thinking I'm running for a Cup right now."

Click below to hear full postgame audio from Miller, Steve Ott and Hitchcock. There's some silence at the start of the Miller clip but be patient. He's standing among us taking a few seconds pondering his answer to the first question.

Ryan Miller

Steve Ott

Ken Hitchcock

Kane beats Miller twice, including in overtime, as Chicago evens series with Blues

By John Vogl

Patrick Kane obviously doesn't care if the Sabres get another first-round draft pick.

The Buffalo native scored twice Wednesday night, including the overtime winner, to give Chicago a 4-3 win over St. Louis. The Blackhawks have won two straight to even their first-round, best-of-seven playoff series at 2-2. The next game is Friday.

"We kind of have the momentum now," Kane said. "We know it's going to be a tough game in Game Five in their building. They're going to be fired up, and that's always a tough place to play, preseason, regular season or playoffs. So we'll expect them to get better, and we'll get better, too."

Ryan Miller finished with 30 saves for the Blues. As part of the trade to get Miller, St. Louis has to give Buffalo its 2014 first-round pick if it reaches the Western Conference final. Depending on other conditions, the pick could fall to a second- or third-round selection.

"All these games could have been won by one of these two teams, so we're just going to have to keep battling, keep playing good hockey," Miller said. "It's a seven-game series. We knew it was going to be tight. These guys have shown their resiliency in winning last year. We have to show we're resilient and bring the game to beat them."

Continue reading "Kane beats Miller twice, including in overtime, as Chicago evens series with Blues" »

Video: Miller and Elliott-Roy-Hitchcock talk on tomorrow's matchup with Sabres

By Mike Harrington

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- The St. Louis Blues have posted video of the session Ryan Miller had with the media today as well as snippets from Brian Elliott, Derek Roy and coach Ken Hitchcock.

Hitchcock may be a reviled figure in Buffalo thanks to 1999 but he's a beat writer's dream. He spoke for nearly 12 minutes today and I've included the entire audio package below, with talk about the Sabres and Blues, his thoughts on the New Jersey Devils' 0-11 run in shootouts that the Sabres' extended last night and even a quick snippet on Ted Nolan.

Ken Hitchcock audio

Click below to see the videos. Miller gets a little choked up for a moment at the 2:40 mark when talking about seeing his former teammates. The Hitchcock portion of the second video is only a small dose. 

Continue reading "Video: Miller and Elliott-Roy-Hitchcock talk on tomorrow's matchup with Sabres" »

With West showdowns looming, Blues will sit Miller against Sabres

By Mike Harrington

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues goaltender Ryan Miller (yes, that looks weird) is looking forward to seeing his old teammates perhaps tonight for dinner and tomorrow during the morning skate at Scottrade Center. But he won't see them on the ice during the Sabres-Blues game tomorrow night.

Brian Elliott will be getting the start for the Blues and Miller will be the backup. The Blues have afternoon showdowns Saturday and Sunday with Colorado and Chicago, so it makes sense for Miller to stay fresh for those and take a seat against the NHL's 30th-place team. Even if it is his old mates.

"It's fine," Miller said today after his team's optional practice at the suburban St. Louis Mills Ice Zone. "There will be a lot of time to worry about that later. This year, I'm pretty fresh leaving that situation so maybe it's just a nice little break. Get 'Ells' in there. He's going to kick some pucks out. Hopefully I'll see some of the boys for dinner or around the rink or something. Catch up and see how they're doing."

Miller got a tad emotional, as you would expect, when I asked him what it will be like to seeing his the Sabres on the other side.

"It's going to be a little strange.  Definitely with a group of guys you'd played with for a number of years, it's going to be a little bit different," he said. "All great guys, all guys I count as friends. I'm looking forward to seeing them. That's the human side of it. I'm actually excited. The guys are going to be in town. A chance to see some friends."

Coach Ken Hitchcock, who's ruined a few narratives in Buffalo in his time, said the decision was all about the weekend schedule. There's a good chance Miller could go back-to-back against the Avs and Hawks.

"We talked to him and said, 'Listen, do you have to play aginst Buffalo? Does it matter?''' Hitchcock said. "He didn't care one way or the other. So it set up our schedule nicely for what we wanted to do right to the end of the season."

Continue reading "With West showdowns looming, Blues will sit Miller against Sabres" »

Postgame audio from Toronto: Miller on life with the Blues

By Mike Harrington

TORONTO -- With the media mob down the hall and focused on the collapsing Maple Leafs, I had a good chance for an in-depth interview with Ryan Miller tonight after he helped the St. Louis Blues to a 5-3 victory that allowed them to move back into first overall in the NHL standings.

Miller is just trying to fit in, he told me repeatedly during the chat. It was funny to hear, given how he was the face of the franchise in Buffalo. He doesn't have to be that here, given the array of Olympians on the Blues. 

Miller is always glib and his spirits were understandably much brighter than the last couple years in Buffalo as the losses mounted. Click below to hear the entire conversation, with Miller's thoughts on the Blues' hard style, his adjustment under coach Ken Hitchcock and his thoughts on Pat LaFontaine's departure and Ted Nolan's contract extension.

Ryan Miller

Morning (yep) musings/links from Vancouver and around the NHL

By Mike Harrington

VANCOUVER -- Greetings from what has to be about the most scenic place on the Sabres' North American stops. Never been here before. Completely blown away.  A reminder that tonight's game in Rogers Arena is a 5 p.m.  local time start (8 p.m. in Buffalo), so there is no morning skate today.

The Sabres have played 111 meetings with their 1970 expansion cousins and have 111 points -- going 46-46-19.  Odd.  The Sabres' last game here was a 5-3 win over March 3, 2012. With a win tonight, the Sabres would have consecutive wins in Vancouver for the first time since they won three in a row from Oct. 9, 1996 to March 16, 2000. Tonight is former Canuck Cody Hodgson's 200th NHL game.

Read today's game preview on BC native Nathan Lieuwen starting against his once-favorite team.

Read today's Sabres notebook on the Canucks' desperation

Here's a quick Vancouver Sun preview, with some neat Canucks notes and quotes.

In other NHL news:

---Sure seems like the Sabres sent the Edmonton Oilers for a loop by winning in Rexall Place. The Oil was 10-4-3 in its previous 17 before losing to Buffalo, and then had a complete meltdown last night in an 8-1 loss to Calgary.

Star Taylor Hall and coach Dallas Eakins had an on-bench spat caught by CBC cameras after a frustrated Hall tossed a water bottle and it squirted on to Eakins. And a fan threw an Oilers jersey on the ice, prompting an enraged Edmonton native and goaltender Ben Scrivens to fling it back in the crowd with his stick. See a vine of Scrivens' jersey toss at this Edmonton Journal link.

Read more about the meltdown in the Edmonton Sun.

Continue reading "Morning (yep) musings/links from Vancouver and around the NHL" »

Hawks hand Miller first defeat with Blues but lose Kane for 3 weeks with ankle injury

By Mike Harrington

The Chicago Blackhawks handed Ryan Miller his first loss with the St. Louis Blues Wednesday night with a 4-0 victory in the United Center but it came with a big price.

Leading scorer Patrick Kane is expected to miss about three weeks -- basically the rest of the regular season -- with an ankle injury after St. Louis' Brendan Morrow fell into him. Kane has been remarkably durable in his career, playing 503 out of 515 career games heading into Wednesday.

Incredibly, it was the Blues' first regulation loss of their year in their own division; if you're looking ahead to the playoffs, they're 20-1-2 against the Central but just 8-10-3 against the Pacific.

Miller fell to 7-1-1 since joining the Blues. St. Louis is 8-1-1 since the trade with the Sabres that produced Miller and Steve Ott. Had entered the gamed with a 1.61 GAA and .933  save percentage with St. Louis

Here's a look at Kane's injury:

Continue reading "Hawks hand Miller first defeat with Blues but lose Kane for 3 weeks with ankle injury" »

Miller's move to St. Louis changes dynamics for Blackhawks

By Mike Harrington

Topic No. 1 around the Blackhawks early this afternoon was Patrick Kane and the trip back to Buffalo. But an interesting sidebar topic was the trade of Ryan Miller to St. Louis and what that means for the Hawks going forward.

Chicago enters tonight's game four points behind St. Louis in the Central Division and the Blues have a game in hand. The Blackhawks have an NHL-high 14 overtime losses, going 5-8 in the shootout and 0-6 in overtime-deciding goals, so they've blown a lot of points that way.

And now St. Louis adds Miller, who is 4-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .933 save percentage with the Blues. And he's only faced 90 shots in the four games -- or less than 23 a game.

"He's certainly a top goalie in the game. He's always tough to beat, seems to play well against us," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "St. Louis helped themselves in the net and he's played well since he's been there. It's something that makes our division even tougher and stronger and that race to be in first place is going to be challenging for us. Our ambition is to be try to be first but when you've got a goalie like him, it's going to make you  a better team."

"He's been a big part of their team for a long time," Patrick Kane of Miller and the Sabres. "I watched him when I was growing up and they had their long runs deep into the playoffs. He's a great goaltender and a great person for this city and organization. I got to know him at the Olympics and it's going to be tougher facing him in our division and in our conference."

The Blues can take over first place overall in the NHL with a win tonight over Minnesota but Miller won't face old mates Jason Pominville, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick. He's getting the night off and Brian Elliott is starting in his place.

Miller wins home debut; Sabres fan posts tribute video

By Mike Harrington

TAMPA, Fla. -- It's Deadline Day and our deadline live blog shepherded by John Vogl at First Niagara Center begins at 10 a.m. The Sabres' practice at Tampa Bay Times Forum starts at 11:45 and I'm the only Buffalo reporter on hand to give you on-the-scene updates. (If you're not following Vogl and I on Twitter, today is the day to do it at @Buffnewsvogl and @BNHarrington).

Be sure to check out my story in today's editions on who might go as part  of the Sabres' fire sale.

Today is about looking ahead for the Sabres but before we do, we can have one last look back at Ryan Miller. He won his home debut for the St. Louis Blues last night with a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay that saw him need to make just 15 saves. Miller has faced only 42 shots on goal in two games with the Blues! Little different than here.

Pretty interesting St. Louis column in the Post-Dispatch by Joe Strauss talking to Miller's agent and former Blues goalie Mike Liut. Clearly speaking of the rebuilding in Buffalo and Miller's barrage of shots faced each night, Liut said, "You don’t win it by yourself. You’re not a wall.”

Several people on Twitter have sent me links to a Miller video by a fan named Connor Gorman and it's a great view set to "The Boxer", the Simon and Garfunkel classic. Click here to watch the video. It's well worth it. (The embed code is not working for some reason, so click on the link).

Now that you've watched that,  here's Miller's chat with the media in St. Louis last night. The Blues, unfortunately, run all their interviews together but Miller's starts after just 36 seconds.

Continue reading "Miller wins home debut; Sabres fan posts tribute video" »

After one game, Miller 'very open' to re-signing with St. Louis

Millerpic

(Photo by the Associated Press)


By John Vogl

DALLAS -- Ryan Miller has played only one game for St. Louis, but the questions are already coming about whether he'll re-sign with the Blues.

"I'm very open to it," Miller told reporters in St. Louis today, "but right now, it's more about the hockey. We're going to have a lot of time later on to feel that out.

"It's definitely a possibility."

Sabres fans should hope Miller likes and/or succeeds in St. Louis. If the goaltender re-signs with the Blues before the draft or the team reaches the Western Conference finals, Buffalo gets the Blues' first-round draft pick this June. The conditional pick could fall to a third-round selection in 2016.

Here are the videos from the first news conference in St. Louis for Miller and Steve Ott.

Continue reading "After one game, Miller 'very open' to re-signing with St. Louis" »

More on the conditions of draft picks in Miller trade

By Mike Harrington

There are multiple conditions to the draft picks the Sabres are acquiring from the St. Louis Blues in the Ryan Miller/Steve Ott trade and Sabres officials confirmed the biggest one last night: If the Blues make the Western Conference final this year or re-sign Miller prior to the draft, Buffalo gets St. Louis' first-round pick this year. That would likely be in the neighborhood of pick 27-29 but a first-rounder is a first-rounder.

(An aside here: Why wouldn't St. Louis just wait until the draft and then re-sign Miller at the start of the free agency period July 1 so not to risk giving up a first-rounder? Remember under the new CBA, teams have an NBA-style discussion window prior to the actual signing day for free agents. They can agree to deals but the paperwork can't be signed. So in theory, the Blues could lose Miller during the time when other teams can talk to him. Until that window opens, they're the only team that can sign Miller). 

If the Blues sign Miller to an extension after the 2014 draft, they give Buffalo a second-round pick in 2016. And according to ESPN.com, if the Sabres do, in fact, land St. Louis' No. 1 pick this year, they will give the Blues the second-round pick this June obtained as part of the Jason Pominville deal last April and their third-round pick.

Miller, Ott and others speak on Twitter

By Mike Harrington

Here's a collection of tweets posted last night and this morning by some of the principals in the Sabres-Blues trade (and one from Ryan Miller's wife, Noureen DeWulf):

Jumbotron video celebrating Miller time

By Mike Harrington

Here is the video the Sabres played on the jumbotron during the third period Friday night honoring Ryan Miller:

Continue reading "Jumbotron video celebrating Miller time" »

Sabres say goodbye to Miller, Ott in blockbuster with Blues

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller, one of the most eloquent speakers in the hockey world, fumbled for the right words. Just traded from the only team he’d ever known, the goaltender had emotions whizzing though him faster than any slap shot ever could.

“I kind of figured this is what would happen,” said a tear-fighting Miller, who had thought long about a possible trade but could never truly prepare for it. “It just kind of hits you all at once.”

With that, one of the two best goalies in Buffalo’s history cut off his comments and prepared to join his new team in St. Louis.

Continue reading "Sabres say goodbye to Miller, Ott in blockbuster with Blues " »

Ryan Miller, traded to St. Louis, leaves impressive Sabres legacy behind

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller arrived in Buffalo as a rail-thin college kid who could handle pucks but not his emotions. He’s leaving as a mellowed, married man who cemented his place in Sabres lore with records, fans and trophies, though not the one he wanted most.

Miller’s 12-season run in the Sabres’ organization came to an end tonight as Buffalo traded him to St. Louis along with Steve Ott for goaltender Jaroslav Halak, forwards Chris Stewart and William Carrier, a first-round pick in 2015 and a conditional pick.

Miller, who stepped into the crease in 2002 and has been the face of the franchise since 2007, departed as the team leader in victories and games played among goaltenders. He’s 16th in NHL history for most appearances with one franchise.

Miller always had the talent to reach those lofty heights, but there was a time it didn’t seem possible. His ability to mesh his on-ice abilities with a proper off-ice attitude is what put him ahead of everyone but Dominik Hasek on the Sabres’ goaltending chart. Among the most cerebral athletes ever to call Buffalo home, he matured into a world-renowned goalie who gave back to the community.

The fans loved him back. Even more eye-popping than his stats, which included 284 victories in 540 games, were the number of people who donned a jersey bearing the Miller nameplate. His No. 30 could be seen in every section of First Niagara Center and in countless establishments throughout Western New York. He connected with fans of all ages in ways that most players can’t.

While Miller’s dozen seasons in Buffalo weren’t always the best, they certainly were memorable.

Continue reading "Ryan Miller, traded to St. Louis, leaves impressive Sabres legacy behind" »

Sabres scratch Miller, Ott

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller was supposed to play his last game in Buffalo tonight. It appears the last game actually was Tuesday.

The Sabres have made the goaltender a late scratch and will go with Jhonas Enroth instead tonight against San Jose. The decision likely was made to keep Miller healthy for a trade, which may be imminent.

The Sabres are also sitting captain Steve Ott.

"If that does happen and they’re not in, you’ll probably know why they’re not in," coach Ted Nolan said this morning. "I could say we’re resting them or they’ve got an upper-body or lower-body injury, one of those mysterious things, but you guys will probably know."

Word out of St. Louis is the Blues have zeroed in on acquiring Miller for their playoff run. Reports out of Montreal have Jaroslav Halak coming back to Buffalo in a deal for Miller.

Stay tuned to Sabres Edge for more details as they develop.

Sharks roll into meeting with Miller, Sabres with 7-3 victory over Flyers

By John Vogl

If tonight is indeed Ryan Miller's final game in Buffalo as a member of the Sabres, he's going out with a big test.

The San Jose Sharks arrived after putting up seven goals Thursday night against the Flyers. Joe Pavelski had a hat trick in the 7-3 win in Philadelphia, while Raffi Torres and Logan Couture scored two goals each. San Jose is 4-1 in its last five games.

Miller, expected to be traded before Wednesday's deadline, has reflected on his growth during his 12 seasons in Buffalo. His teammates, meanwhile, are trying to play and not worry about an imminent dismantling of the roster.

Continue reading "Sharks roll into meeting with Miller, Sabres with 7-3 victory over Flyers" »

Roll the highlight film: Video clips of top saves by Ryan Miller

(With Ryan Miller likely spending his last few days as a member of the Sabres, The News will take a look back his 12-season run in Buffalo.)

By John Vogl

Ryan Miller's ability to read plays has allowed him to make impressive saves look routine throughout his career. He can see things develop, move to the right spot and be square to the shooter. It isn't flashy, just effective.

Sometimes, however, a little flash is needed.

Miller made numerous spectacular saves during his 12 seasons with the Sabres. Here are two of the most memorable, plus a pair of compilation videos:

Continue reading "Roll the highlight film: Video clips of top saves by Ryan Miller" »

Miller has long list of 40-save performances during his career with Sabres

By John Vogl

During his 12 seasons in Buffalo, Ryan Miller has faced 17,587 shots. He's stopped 16,217. That's a lot of rubber hitting his pads, glove and mask.

The more he faces, the better he gets. Miller has made 40 or more saves 33 times in his career, and he's 23-7-3 when topping the magic number.

Not surprisingly, most of those shot-heavy performances have come during the Sabres' recent struggles. Of the 33 times Miller was forced to make at least 40 saves, 11 came during the 2013 calendar year.

Here's a look at the performances. For select games, click on the link to read the recap:

Continue reading "Miller has long list of 40-save performances during his career with Sabres" »

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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