Ryan Miller got a nice ovation from the crowd at HSBC Arena before the game for his Olympic heroics. But after the Sabres' 3-1 loss to the Capitals, Miller seemed to be holding back an outburst of his own. He didn't call his teammates "fragile kids", as he did during their recent seven-game losing streak, but it was clear that Miller was upset with the Sabres for straying from the system in an uneven and disappointing loss to the top team in the East.
The Sabres have now lost nine of their last 10 games. There was an exhilirating Olympic break in there, and a memorable performance by Miller. But the medals are in the drawer and the Sabres once again appear to be a team in crisis. I asked the Buffalo goalie afterwards if things were back to where they were before the Sabres beat San Jose before the Olympic break.
"Yeah," Miller said. "But as I said earlier today in the press conference, I think every game can become independent of the other. It's the kind of mindset you take. If we can erase the last two games and begin to respect the system and play a sound game, we're going to win some hockey games. But if you continue down this path, it's not the way to do it. It's been proven.
""And if we're too thick-headed to let that sink it, we deserve what we're getting. For my part, I'm going to make sure the attitude around here is going to be right. We need to strive to get better and strive to be winners. We can't just hope we get by. There's been a little too much of that."
Sounds like Miller won't hesitate to call his teammates out in the future if they continue to play sloppy hockey and abandon the system. His play in Vancouver enhanced his status as a team leader and spokesman. Miller admitted during the losing streak that he had been mad at the team for a month. If they don't turn it around soon, it won't be surprising if he has another blistering rant.