Skip to main content

Flyers wary of Ryan Miller

by John McGourty / NHL.com

"He's capable of great performances and we know that so we have to be good defensively ourselves. We have to get a lot of pucks to the net and make him work.  We were able to do that last game and we're going to have to do that tonight."
-- John Stevens on Ryan Miller

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers take a five-game winning streak going into Saturday night's game against the Buffalo Sabres and their league-leading goalie, Ryan Miller.

The Flyers beat the Sabres, 5-2, a week ago Friday in Buffalo when they created a lot of traffic in front of Miller and threw 37 shots at him. Dan Carcillo had 2 goals. Ian Laperriere had 2 assists and Blair Betts had an assist. Fourth-liner Darroll Powe also had a goal.

Flyers coach John Stevens is aware that Miller is leading the NHL with a 1.75 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage and is tied with three others for the league lead with 11 victories. Still, that's not all that the Northeast Division-leading Sabres have going for them, Stevens said.

"I think he's in elite company right now. I think he's one of the better goalies in the league," Stevens said. "He likes to come out and challenge. His positioning is very good and he seems to see the puck very well and not give a lot of rebounds. With any goalie, you've got to get a lot of traffic in front of him. I like to get some back-post presence to try to flatten him out in the net a little bit and just try to get a lot of pucks to the net to try to make him work.

"The big concern for me with Buffalo is how good their offensive attack is," Stevens continued. "I think they have one of the best offensive attacks in the league. I study them as a coach just because they so many things well. They always have a middle-lane drive and a guy driving back-post. Their defense is probably more active than any defense in the league, especially (Tyler) Myers, he gets to pucks all the time.

"They're so good defensively because they're so good offensively. Miller has a lot to do with that because he gives them the confidence to get up ice. It's really their offensive attack that concerns me the most."

Miller's goals-against average and save percentage have not been among the NHL leaders in recent years but, to the eye, he has always appeared to be a very good goalie, one capable of making amazing, clutch saves. His ability to outplay his teammates and "steal" a game is second-to-none. Stevens was asked why Miller's past numbers were not reflective of his ability.

"Buffalo will tell you themselves that they play with a little bit of risk offensively," Stevens said. "They're willing to take risks, pinching down the strong side. They take risks with the defense for what it produces offensively and they're very good at it. With Buffalo, there's going to be some odd-man rushes and some quality chances going the other way.

"They've had a young defense for a couple of years and they seem to be getting better. With a young defense, there's going to more chances. His numbers may not have been the best in the league but I think he's one of the better goalies, probably in the top five, and has been for a long time."

"He's capable of great performances and we know that so we have to be good defensively ourselves. We have to get a lot of pucks to the net and make him work.  We were able to do that last game and we're going to have to do that tonight."

When the Flyers beat the Ottawa Senators Thursday night, the scoring punch came from the first line of Jeff Carter, who had 2 assists; Danny Briere, who had 2 goals; and rookie James van Riemsdyk, who had a goal. Van Riemsdyk since has came down with the flu and may not play against Buffalo. If not, Riley Cote will be in the lineup and Myko Pyorala will move up to left wing on the first line.

The Flyers started the winning streak during a rash of injuries. The success of some of the less-renowned players and minor-league call-up David Laliberte has convinced the team that they have quality depth and it's reflected in the confidence of the players and the coaching staff.

"Through this run here, we've come together on both sides of the puck," Stevens said. "Certainly, we have depth. The offense we get from our back end has a lot to do with that. We have a lot of guys up front who get a lot of pucks to the net. They make a lot of good plays, possession plays. Our forechecking game, from all four lines, has been great and that allows us to chip in offensively from good offensive-zone play. We feel like we have four lines that can play with anybody."


View More