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Miller brothers cherish family bond

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Drew Miller has played against his older brother, Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller, just three times in five seasons. (Poto by Dave Reginek)
BUFFALO, N.Y. – As brothers growing-up in a hockey-crazed family in East Lansing, Mich., the last few years have taken a toll on Drew and Ryan Miller, who've managed to see each competitively just a few times since the younger brother joined the NHL five seasons ago.

Even in the summer months – with Drew in west central Michigan and Ryan back home to Los Angeles – the two seem to see each other only on special occasions.

“It's fun that I've gotten to play against him,” said Drew Miller, who has faced his older brother just three times in the NHL. “And it's always fun for our parents and family and friends to come and watch. I think it's great for both of us being brothers and as close as we are. There's not a lot of that happening in the NHL.”

Unfortunately, the Miller brothers likely won’t face each other tonight, either, when the Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres face off at First Niagara Center at 7:30 p.m. EST.

Ryan Miller, the Sabres’ goalie was removed from injured reserve today after suffering a concession in mid-November against Boston. Ryan will backup tonight’s starter Jhonas Enroth.

“I hope for our team’s sake I really don’t have to go in there, because you want it to be a good situation, but there’s another game,” said Ryan, referring to the Sabres’ Jan. 16 trip to Detroit.

The last time the Wings and Sabres faced, it was Drew who wasn’t in the lineup, sitting out as a healthy scratch last February.

“Every time I'm a healthy scratch I'm not too happy, but especially in that game,” Drew said. “I wanted to play against him especially with the whole family there. It was tough but it's one of those things where it is what it is. I just hope we have a few more games against each other in our careers.”

Drew has faced Ryan three times in their NHL careers – once each as a member of the Anaheim Ducks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Red Wings.

But older brother Ryan has no doubt that the two will face-off many more times in the future, especially if Drew continues to play at the elevated level that he has this season.

“I’ve been happy for him, and I think the Red Wings are a good fit, and they respect the kind of player that he is,” Ryan Miller said. “They’ve always had guys who were willing to do the job and play smart and Drew is always the guy willing to do the job, as evidence of the puck that he took in the face last week.

“He’s in and out of the lineup but he comes back and wants to prove that he belongs and now that he really does fit in well with that team – I don’t think the Red Wings will be surprised – but I think maybe some other people who watch hockey will be surprised when he starts getting some points here and starts settling into his role.”
In 21 games this season, Miller has two goals and four assists in his third season with the Wings, but it’s on special teams where he’s contributed most.

“I try and be consistent every night and bring something to the team that I feel I can contribute and help the team every night,” Drew said. “They rely on us for energy, being responsible and being one of the guys they can rely on to kill penalties. That's the role we play.”

Being separated from family is something that the Millers have grown used to, especially with three cousins who once played in the NHL.

“We grew-up around Kevin, Kelly and Kip who would see each other at Christmas, and sometimes not at all until the summertime, but you get used to it,” said Ryan, who had Drew over to his house for dinner Thursday night. “Growing up Drew and I were really close and we try to stay as close as we can even being far apart during the hockey season, but it’s a little tough.

“It’s good to have him in town, because it’s funny, I’ve had my townhouse here for five years and he’s never seen it until yesterday. Just little things like that where it’s hard to believe that that much time goes by without your brother seeing how you live every day.”

Ryan Miller even hinted at the likelihood of one day playing on the same team with his younger brother.

“You know it would be something nice down toward the end of our careers to do something together at some point,” Ryan said. “It’s been fun to watch him progress and I’ve enjoyed my time in the league, but it would be something special down the line to do something together.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @RooseBill

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