|Ducks winger Drew Miller |
For the first at any level of their respective hockey careers, the paths of Ducks forward Drew Miller and his brother, Buffalo goaltender Ryan, will finally cross on Wednesday when the Sabres make their first appearance at Honda Center since Oct. 24, 2003.
Making matters interesting is the fact that left winger Drew will be looking to score on his brother minding the net for the Sabres.
“You don’t see it too often in the National Hockey League, where brothers face each other and it’s goaltender versus forward,” Ryan said.
Headed into Wednesday night’s game, Drew isn’t quite sure what emotions to expect. What he does know is that both he and his brother are looking for bragging rights.
“It’s going to be weird,” Drew said. “I want to score on him and he wants to stop me. That’s the name of the game. He’s definitely a great goalie. Any way to score would be great. I know if I get shots on the net and I don’t score, he’s going to chirp for awhile.”
As Ryan took the same path he took through Michigan State and into the NHL, 23-year-old Drew has relied on his 27-year-old brother, who debuted with the Sabres during the 2002-03 season, for guidance.
|Sabres goalie Ryan Miller |
“He played junior hockey before I did and then college and pro,” Drew said. “Every step of the way he had advice. It’s been great to have him to talk to.”
While the Sabres, who won last year’s President’s trophy, fell short of the Stanley Cup in falling to Ottawa in five games of the Eastern Conference finals, Ryan still made a point of attending the Stanley Cup finals to watch Drew make his NHL debut with the Ducks.
“It was hard for him to come out for the playoffs, but it meant a lot to me that he came and got to see me play because he hadn’t been able to see me play in a long time,” Drew said. “It was a really big thing for him to do. We’re best friends. Anything he’d do for me, I’d do for him.”
As Drew is in the midst of his first full season with the Ducks this year, Ryan has been admiring his brother’s blossoming game from afar.
“Drew’s worked really hard,” Ryan said. “He’s a real strong playmaker and can play with anybody. I think that’s a unique skill to have at the pro level is when you can play with many different lines and be effective.”
Along with the Drew and Ryan, the entire Miller family knows a thing or two about hockey. In all, the Millers have had 10 members of the family play hockey at Michigan State and five of those go on to the NHL. Seeing two of those five compete against each other on Wednesday night will be a big moment for all of the family.
“This will be a very unique and fun opportunity for us and our family to have brothers playing against each other,” Ryan said.
Along with the Miller showdown, the Sabres coming to Honda Center also gives Ducks left winger Brad May a chance to play against the team he broke into the NHL with and played for from 1991-1998. Having played for four teams all in the Western Conference since leaving Buffalo, May hasn’t had many opportunities to face the Sabres since his departure.
“I haven’t played against Buffalo in five or six years. It’s been a long time,” May said. “I’m looking forward to it. It was a terrific place to start my career.”
Following Tuesday’s practice, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said he sees plenty of talent in the Sabres, who have transitioned well since the offseason free agency departures of Chris Drury (NY Rangers) and Daniel Briere (Philadelphia).
“I think Buffalo’s playing the game at a very high pace,” Carlyle said. “They’ve got a lot of speed in their lineup. They’ve had an adjustment period with change in their lineup. The younger players that they had fill spots are now starting to get comfortable in the league. We know they are a very dangerous hockey club. They are playing much better of late.”
While the Ducks are looking to bounce back from two straight losses to Edmonton on Wednesday night, the Sabres enter the game having won six of their last seven games.