TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 27: Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres gets set to face a shot in the warm-up prior to playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on December 27, 2013 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Leafs defeated the Sabres 4-3 in an overtime shoot-out. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Miller: Move to Olympic-sized ice will be big adjustment

20 Comments

Although there was never much doubt, we can now officially say that Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller will represent the United States in the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Jimmy Howard and Jonathan Quick have also made the squad and, as Miller pointed out to Sabres.com, there’s still a good amount of time left before Team USA has to decide who their starting goaltender will be. However, given Howard and Quick’s lukewarm and injury filled 2013-14 campaigns compared to Miller’s stunning performance in the 2010 Games, the Sabres netminder has to be seen as the heavy favorite.

It will be different this time around though as he’ll have to go from playing in an NHL-sized rink to an Olympic one. He’s going to try watching tapes to prepare, but he won’t actually get much of an opportunity to try out the Sochi ice before it’s time to play.

“It’s going to be quite the adjustment to go over there and have maybe one or two practices maybe if that and have to execute,” Miller said. “I’ll have to mentally prepare and do the work in your mind first. I’ll try and squeeze some time in if I can get on the Olympic sheet [in Buffalo]. Maybe I’ll get the keys to the building, sneak in, see what I can do.”

Although that will be an added challenge he’ll have to deal with this time around, he’s obviously looking forward to the games. It’s an opportunity to go to a part of the world he’s never seen before and meet up with athletes he might not otherwise have much of an opportunity to seen.

It’s also a chance for him to deal with some unfinished business after he came tantalizingly close to the gold medal in 2010.

Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
Leave a comment

You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP
2 Comments

It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

12 Comments

Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

13 Comments

Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.