Ryan Miller will play his 500th career game tonight, at home, in front of the Sabres faithful.
And he’s probably hoping it’ll go better than last time.
On Apr. 19 — Miller’s last start at the First Niagara Center — the Sabres were eliminated from playoff contention with an ugly 8-4 loss to the Rangers, in which Miller responded to jeering fans with a sarcastic wave…before getting hooked.
On Thursday, he explained himself.
“Some people were giving me some grief, and I just picked my hand up like, ‘OK, I hear ya,'” Miller told the Buffalo News. “It wasn’t a screw you. It wasn’t a, ‘I hate you guys.’ It was, ‘You know, I hear ya. Enough. I get it.’
“Just let me try and do what I’ve got to do.”
The gesture was seen as a possible breaking point for Miller.
The 30-year-old netminder has already been subjected to a season’s worth of frustration, trade speculation and uncertainty about his future.
The wave was reminiscent of another incident where a goalie finally had enough.
Miller, who’s been in the organization since 2002, had a moment reminiscent of Patrick Roy’s final game in Montreal just 28 seconds into the period.
He stopped another dump-in and fired it toward the boards with authority.
As the crowd again gave a Bronx cheer, Miller waved to the patrons as played continued – much like Roy did during a humiliating game in 1995 that featured him asking for a trade immediately after getting pulled.
Miller’s teammates responded following the contest.
“It’s very disrespectful after what he’s done for Buffalo, what he’s done for this team, this organization and this city,” Sabres defenseman Adam Pardy told News. “It [ticks] you off when you hear that. He’s been great all year. We’ve had wins when we’ve had no business winning games. The reason was Ryan Miller.
“To hear that is just absolute disrespect for what he’s done for this organization.”
Today, Miller stressed he harbors no ill will towards Sabres fans over the incident.
“I care about the people here,” he told The News. “If they’re frustrated with the way we’re playing, I can acknowledge it and we can move on.”