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Rivalry Night on NBCSN: Ryan Miller ready for pre-Olympic test vs Penguins

Feb 5, 2014, 8:43 AM EDT

Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (30) makes the save on a shot by Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. The Penguins won 3-0. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) AP

Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins will head to First Niagara Center to take on the Buffalo Sabres at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

The last time Ryan Miller played between the pipes, the Buffalo Sabres embarrassed him. That was captain Steve Ott‘s assessment after the Colorado Avalanche cruised to a 7-1 victory against them.

That has also been the theme of this season in Buffalo. Miller has been strong for the most part, but the team in front of him hasn’t been able to take advantage of that. Perhaps he can take some comfort in the fact that he’ll be playing for a far better squad next week.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,200 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $275. Starts Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Miller was one of the main reasons the United States made it all the way to the gold medal game in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Naturally, he made the team again and there’s a good chance he’ll be handed the starting job again over Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Quick. Before he goes to Sochi though, he’ll be fiercely tested tonight.

The Penguins feature Team Canada’s best player in Sidney Crosby and one of Russia’s top forwards in Evgeni Malkin. So this should naturally make for a pretty intense warmup for the American netminder.

Miller has dealt with the Penguins once this season and turned aside 31 of 33 shots in what was ultimately one of his 21 regulation losses. Which brings us to elephant in the room: Even when his stint with the United States is done, his return to the Buffalo Sabres will probably be short-lived.

Assuming he’s not dealt before the break, the conventional wisdom is that he will be before the trade deadline. Which makes this potentially one of his final starts for the team that drafted him in 1999.

There was a time the Buffalo Sabres were great and though he might not a part of it, it’s only a matter of time before they rise again. For now though, maybe Miller can stand up and make a statement going into the Olympics. And maybe his teammates will play a tough contest against the superior Penguins.

If that happens, perhaps Miller can add to his franchise lead with a 284th victory. The damage to Buffalo’s season is already irreversible, but they can at least make it so that if Miller is gone soon, he would have left on a high note.

  1. patshal - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:00 AM

    If I were Miller, I would want to leave Buffalo. I’d be ready to punch my whole team in the face. That’s not fair to him at all that goalies who are worse than him see winning more games and have a better GAA.

    • rabidbillsfan - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:05 AM

      Might have something to do with those bad goalies being on good teams. The Sabres are bad, we all know they are bad, Miller knows they are bad. Please, keep telling us things we do not already know, I’ll be sure to follow this closely.

      • buddysguys - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        some people just dont get it.

  2. penguins87and71 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    How is this a rivalry?

    • patthehockeyfan - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      If you watch NBCSN 30 minutes before the game, they’ll tell you why it’s a rivalry. They do a 30-minute mini-documentary of sorts explaining why the teams are rivals. They might have to go back to a game or series in the 90s; but, they’ll call it a rivalry.

      Truthfully, any game telecast on Wednesdays on NBCSN’s “Rivalry Night” is called a rivalry – even though most people wouldn’t think of it that way.

      • thailer35 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:56 AM

        Pulling a Joey real quick here.

        thailer35 – Dec 18, 2013 at 1:24 PM
        In an NBC Sports board room there is a poster that probably looks something like this.

        Teams that are not rivals of the Pittsburgh Penguins:
        Pittsburgh Steelers
        Toronto Raptors
        Seattle Mariners
        Atlanta Dream
        Usain Bolt

        Teams that are rivals of the Pittsburgh Penguins:
        Everyone else

      • patthehockeyfan - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:59 AM

        I remember reading that post, thailer. Still makes me laugh.

        P.S. “Pulling a Joey … ” You had to remind me, huh? I was having a fairly good morning. Emphasis on ‘was.’

      • Tyler - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:29 AM

        @thailer35

        It’s easy to point to the Penguins and say that NBC has a love affair with them, but..

        Considering there are only three games scheduled for tonight, two of which don’t start until 10 and 10:30 respectively, it’s easy for them to say their only primetime match up is a “rivalry”.

    • dhawks19 - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Soon it’s going to be Panthers Vs. Ducks on Wednesday Night Rivalry a rivalry as old as time itself

      • patthehockeyfan - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:53 AM

        Funny, dhawks. “As old as time itself” – if time began in the year 1993.

        Then again, that would make them rivals – “two teams whose franchises both began in 1993!” I can hear Doc Emrick now.

    • c9castine - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:41 PM

      yeah, i know.

      listen, if they wanted to do this whole rivalry night thing they should have made sure they had enough legitimate games to do it. they don’t. pittsburgh buffalo is about as much of a rivalry as florida and dallas.

      they’d have been much better off just putting games on, and maybe like once a month throw a game on saturday night prime time that is legit, like pittsburgh philly, or boston montreal, or something.

  3. billysabre - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:12 AM

    I smell a blockbuster between the rangers, blues and sabres w/miller being the prize piece.

    • c9castine - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:42 PM

      thats really complex and specific for a prediction there nostradamus.

  4. steelpenbucs87 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:15 AM

    You keep using that word, “Rivalry”. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  5. flyerguy73 - Feb 5, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    I hope miller gets beat real bad. He will get spanked in the Olympics also. Go team Canada!

    • rabidbillsfan - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      pssst… your butthurt is showing.

  6. 2qswing - Feb 5, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    nothing but respect for Sabre organization and fans BUT, this is the 5th appearance for Buffalo on nbcsn. Worst team in the league, scored a league low 107 goals in 55 games and we are supposed to get jazzed up about this…. 5 times? Is there some higher up executive at nbc who grew up in Buffalo? Again much respect to the Sabres. Every team goes through highs and lows. This is more of a criticism of NBC
    not only is this not a rivalry, it REALY is not a rivalry this year. i’ll take a nap after work and then watch Hawks/Ducks.

    • westinpat - Feb 5, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      I’d love the Sabres to play less on NBC. The producers, reporters and announcers show very little respect towards them. If the Sabres crushed the Penguins tonight 8-0 everyone would talk about how Pittsburgh couldn’t score, interview five players and then talk about the Sabres 30 seconds before they sign off for the night.

      There are a lot of teams that receive the same treatment also in the league.

  7. penguins87and71 - Feb 5, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    Seriously who is actually going to take Ryan Miller? His UFA at the end of this season. If I were a GM I would be reluctant to give up anything significant for this guy unless I knew he would resign with my team. The Buffalo Sabres messed up in my opinion they should have traded Miller a year ago or even two years ago. They could have gotten a lot more in return for him.

    • hockey412 - Feb 5, 2014 at 12:38 PM

      I agree with you – there are a few teams though that might take the chance if they are unhappy with their goaltending situation and think Miller might help get them over the hump this year (bubble teams). Flyers/Minnesota/Pheonix (yes I know…another Olympian)….they might give their starting goaltender and a pick to get him here this year. That might be all they can get.

      I wouldn’t, I agree with you.

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