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Sabres don't want Miller doing it by himself

by Mike G. Morreale
PHILADELPHIA -- Few would argue that Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was the best player on the ice in his team's Game 1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
While that's all well and good, is it a risky proposition to leave it up to your 30-year-old goalie to bail the club from the depths of defeat each and every game in this series?
Probably not, and the players realize that.
"I just think everyone needs to come together," center Nathan Gerbe said. "We're not going to put it on one person. Honestly, our goalie has been great, but everyone needs to step up in Game 2 and play better each game. Each game is going to get harder and everyone has to rise up."
To a man, the Sabres know they'll likely see the best the Flyers have to offer on Saturday in attempt to even up this best-of-seven series. They also know they cannot leave Miller out to dry.

"They were physical right off the bat and, in their building, they wanted to make a statement. We expect them to come out even harder on Saturday. They'll want to get back into this, and get that win." -- Jason Pominville on facing the Flyers in Game 1

"We thought they came out really hard (on Thursday)," said forward Jason Pominville. "They were physical right off the bat and, in their building, they wanted to make a statement. We expect them to come out even harder on Saturday. They'll want to get back into this, and get that win."
That being said, the 2010 Vezina Trophy-winning Miller is certainly privy to the weight of the team on his back and, really, it has never really fazed him. On Thursday, Miller made 35 saves, including 16 in a feverishly played second-period, to give his team the edge.
"Night in and night out, he's our best player on the ice anyway," said forward Patrick Kaleta, who scored the game-winner 5:56 into the third period. "Ryan is a world-class player in the League and he has that title for a reason."
Second-year defenseman Tyler Myers has been spoiled having Miller backing him up in Buffalo.
"We always feel like a better team when Millsy's going and he proved that he was going (Thursday night)," Myers said. "He had a great game and he's been doing that for us since I've been a Sabre, so it's nice to have him back there."
Pominville said Miller has never let the team down and they know what to expect from their eighth-season goalie.
"He's the best player on our team so we know what to expect," he said. "He gives us an opportunity to win every night … he makes the key saves at key times. In Game 1, he played a great game, held us in there and was our best penalty-killer. It definitely helps us and we feed off the energy he brings."
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff couldn't stress enough the importance of playing disciplined against the Flyers. That lecture went by the wayside on Thursday, however, when Buffalo was whistled for six penalties -- giving the Flyers five power-play opportunities in the process.
Philadelphia would generate 11 shots on 9:22 of power-play time, too. But due in large part to Miller, and a fine display of penalty-killing, the Sabres escaped unscathed.
"We know we can be better," Ruff said. "We played a strong game, but we can play a better game. Offensively, we didn't spend the time in the offensive zone we wanted. I think we really have to get after it in Game 2. We turned over quite a few pucks on entrance that didn't allow us enough offensive zone time, and I thought that hurt us.
"You need desperation at this time of the year and you need your penalty-killing to be effective. When you have breakdowns, you always look to your goaltender to make that big save for you."
Ah, yes, it always comes back to the masked man in net.
Sabres defensive forward Mike Grier doesn't believe it should, however.
"I don't think we need him to be the best player on the ice; we need him to be what he's been for us all year, which is solid back there," Grier told "He gives us confidence, but I think we feel like we can play better and we can be better with the puck, better offensively. If we do that, then we won't need Millsy to stand on his head every night."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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