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Miller on the mend, defends Sabres teammates

by Adam Kimelman / NHL.com
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said his neck is feeling better than it did Saturday night after he was hit by Boston's Milan Lucic.

However, what really seems to be paining the Buffalo netminder is some of the pointed comments directed at his teammates, who some observers felt didn't do enough to defend their goalie when he was knocked down in the first period of the game by Lucic. Miller stayed in the game through the end of the second period, but was removed before the start of the third due to a neck injury.

"Lucic is a tough guy, what are you going to do? Hack him? Spear him? Cheap shot him? Then you're no better than he is. We'll play tough, hard-nosed hockey and we're going to 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. I hope we have the character to go out there and win those games." -- Ryan Miller

"I don't think you need an all-out donnybrook," Miller said Tuesday. "I think they tried to handle it with the power play and over the course of the night. If they want to get in and scrap I appreciate it. … It's something that a lot has been said about it. These guys in there have my back. I was disappointed in the direction that started to take, where people were talking about how these guys don't have my back.

"My whole job is to help these guys and be there for them, and they're there for me. I was just really disappointed in the direction that started to take. I've been with a bunch of these guys for a very long time. For one incident and one tough stretch of hockey to become what it was, I think is unfair to me and I think it's unfair to the guys in here."

Miller said he isn't all that sure what more his teammates could have done.


"What can you really do? You're going to get a suspension yourself?" Miller said. "Lucic is a tough guy, what are you going to do? Hack him? Spear him? Cheap shot him? Then you're no better than he is. We'll play tough, hard-nosed hockey and we're going to 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. I hope we have the character to go out there and win those games."

Miller said he also was disappointed in the decision made by Brendan Shanahan, NHL Vice President, Player Safety and Hockey Operations, to not suspend Lucic for the hit.

"It's out of my control," Miller said. "I had my sound bite, you guys know how I feel, and I don't think that's changed much. There are two sides to it and they chose to go that direction. I'm not going to be happy about it, but I'm not going to speak out against it."

Miller said he heard how Lucic defended his hit, arguing that he had his head down as he chased a loose puck and crashed into Miller as a result. Miller wasn't sure about the plausibility of that explanation.

"I've heard what he had to say. Do I buy it? I think he said what he had to say to avoid being suspended," Miller said. "It's the NHL, 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 about the faceoff dot. From where I would challenge him on a breakaway, it was the difference of 10 feet that I skated. I wasn't skating out to the top of the circle. The puck is coming toward my crease, it's normal that I would slap it away. If he didn't see me … I don't know how that could happen."

He also wasn't pleased with the explanation from the League.

"One thing I was disappointed with in the assessment of what came out of Boston and some of what came out of the League was that wasn't a head shot. So that was their conclusion … the concussion didn't come from that. I didn't know they were all doctors. Concussions are caused by many things, one of them is a whiplash motion that sends your brain moving laterally … doesn't need to be a direct impact."

Miller said he's ready to move forward and focus on his recovery and return to playing, but isn't sure when that might happen.

"My neck is pretty sore," he said. "Just trying to figure if that's the source of the headaches or if what I was really feeling … my head started hurting, it went from feeling great in the first period of that game to feeling extreme tiredness and the onset of tightness in my neck. I talked to our doctor today and he said it's real common when you feel whiplash you feel it the next day. I have the concussion symptoms and a little bit of whiplash."


Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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