While the Buffalo Sabres’ actions Nov. 23 in their rematch with the Bruins will give us the only true measure of their toughness, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller is still talking a good game.
Even in the aftermath of the NHL’s decision not to suspend Milan Lucic for the collision with Miller Saturday night, and Lucic’s explanation that he didn’t see Miller as he went for the puck, the netminder made it clear today he’s not in a forgiving mood when it comes to the Bruins forward.
“I was setting up for a breakaway. He mishandled the puck. I think he was mad he lost the puck,” Miller told reporters, including Bill Hoppe, today during an impromptu media gathering. “I’ve heard what he has to say. Do I buy it? I think he said what he had to say to avoid being suspended. I think it’s the NHL, man. The guy can skate. He can stop, he can turn, he can pick his head up. If you’re chasing the puck … he last touched it around the red line, and I touched it at the faceoff dot. From where I would challenge him for a breakaway, it’s a matter of what, like, 10 feet difference? I wasn’t skating out to the top of the circle. It’s reasonable the puck’s coming toward my crease that I swat it away, clear it. If he didn’t see me, then I don’t even know how that can happen.”
While defending his teammates’ lack of a response to Lucic, Miller, who is out indefinitely with a concussion, couldn’t resist taking a dig at Lucic as well.
“I’ve been with a lot of these guys for a really long time. For one incident and one tough stretch of hockey to start to become what it was, I think is unfair to me and I think is unfair to the guys in here. You guys aren’t in the locker room. You guys don’t know what’s going on. We allow you in here for these interviews. We don’t conduct ourselves the same ways as we do with each other,” he said. “We’re speaking to the fans, we’re speaking to you guys because there has to be a voice around the team. … Those kind of issues, we don’t deal with it. We certainly don’t deal with it in the media. What we have said, and what Paul [Gaustad] has said and some other guys have said, I appreciate that they want to do more.
“But, I mean, what can you really do. Are you going to get a suspension yourself? Lucic is a tough guy. What are you going to do? Try to hack him, spear him, cheap-shot him. You’re no better than he is. We’ll play tough, hard-nosed hockey, and we’ll have five more chances to play them. It’s not about open season; it’s about playing the game the right way and playing it hard and I hope we have the character to go out there and win those games.”
There you have it. November 23 can’t come soon enough. And it’ll be interesting to see what happens when (not if) a Bruins play gets within spitting distance of the Buffalo goal crease — be it with Jhonas Enroth playing there or a recuperated Miller.