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Miller hoping for a net gain

Updated: 2013-08-29 07:14
By Associated Press in Arlington, Virginia (China Daily)

Miller hoping for a net gain

Odds stacked against veteran goaltender suiting up for Team USA at Sochi Games

Ryan Miller was simply brilliant at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

The Buffalo Sabres goaltender put Team USA in a position to win silver and came within a goal of gold against Canada en route to being named the tournament MVP after making 139 saves on 147 shots over six games.

But now his Olympic hockey odyssey might be over.

Even though he's just 33, potentially in the prime of his career, there's a good chance Miller will not be at the Sochi Games in February.

He has struggled to have success with the Sabres since the most recent Olympics, and the team's rebuilding efforts might include trading him with one year left on his contract.

USA Hockey coaches and officials invited 48 players to this week's training camp because of their experience or potential as future Olympians, but management has made it clear how each player performs for his NHL club from October through December will be pivotal when the 25-man squad is revealed on New Year's Day.

"Ryan is well aware of that," general manager David Poile said on Tuesday at Team USA's orientation camp.

Miller is one of six goalies in the mix and he's in a pack of perhaps four players vying for two spots behind Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, who led his team to the Stanley Cup in 2012.

"It's wide open," Miller said. "I feel like I still have a lot of hockey left in me and I feel like I can still play at a high level."

Jimmy Howard of the Detroit Red Wings, Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators and Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils might get the other two spots as Quick's backups.

Miller hoping for a net gain

John Gibson, a 20-year-old prospect, was also invited to this week's camp, but isn't expected to make the team.

Miller made it clear what his goal is over the final months of 2013.

"I want to make the team," he said. "I want to be the guy who is in there stopping pucks in Sochi. I want to start."

Miller started in each of the six games at the Vancouver Olympics and the only one he didn't finish was a 6-1 rout against Finland in the semi-finals.

His run included a spectacular 42-save performance in a 5-3 win over Canada in the preliminary round.

"It was the best two weeks I've seen a goalie play in my lifetime," said Quick, who was the third goalie behind Miller and Tim Thomas in 2010.

The one puck Miller couldn't stop in 2010 that haunted him for a while was Sidney Crosby's wrist shot 7:40 into overtime that lifted Team Canada to the gold medal.

"It's not a sore subject for me anymore ... but it's definitely bittersweet," Miller said.

"It was a lot of fun to play hockey at such a high level in a great place where they respect the game, but at the same time it wasn't the fairy-tale ending you want.

"You just have to trudge on and hope for your next opportunity."

Quick, though, has perhaps been the best goalie in the NHL over the past two years.

He led Los Angeles to the Stanley Cup championship in 2012, allowing an average of 1.41 goals a game during the playoffs.

"What makes Jonathan unique is his attitude," said Dustin Brown, Quick's teammate on the Kings and Team USA. "He'll make a save he has no business making and then he'll flip the puck out to the dot like it was just another save. His quiet arrogance trickles down and rubs off on guys."

It will be up to Poile and his advisory group to decide if Miller will get that chance in Russia.

"We've got to make the right decision," Poile said.

"Because if we screw up on one up guy, that could be the difference between us winning and not winning."


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