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Biron understands team comes first in big picture

There's a scene in the movie "Miracle," the 2004 epic about the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, in which goalie Jim Craig is threatened with a benching. He protests, exclaiming, "That's my net, man."

Neither Buffalo Sabres goaltender has ever said those words, at least not publicly. But on Wednesday, one day after helping the Sabres end a three-game losing streak, Martin Biron intimated them.

Only he wasn't claiming possession of the Sabres' crease for himself. He seemed to be acknowledging for the first time that if the team is going to make a run at the Stanley Cup, it's going to do it with Ryan Miller.

Biron started Tuesday's 7-1 victory over the Boston Bruins because Miller needed to refocus after a hectic All-Star break. Biron played well, and he might have earned the start tonight when the Sabres play the Bruins again, this time in Boston's TD Banknorth Garden.

That would be ideal for Biron, who could be the No. 1 goalie on a team other than the Sabres. He relishes the ice time. But Biron said Wednesday that it's no longer about him playing.

"I think that a lot of people are reading way too much into it," he said. "We are trying to get back on a run here, and trying to get back to the level we were at a month ago, so it really doesn't matter what you do or when you go back in."

A month ago, the Sabres were 29-7-3, and Miller had just won his fourth straight game while starting 18 of 20. Miller had a pair of subpar outings last weekend, so coach Lindy Ruff wanted to give him time to rest and reflect.

And that's what Biron seemed to acknowledge Wednesday. He wasn't playing because he's the top guy. He was playing because the top guy has to get back to peak form, and the best way to do that was with a break.

When Miller's focus is back, that's his net.

"I do want more, and that's just natural, normal, being competitive," Biron said. "But I think that everybody's got to take a step back and realize that this is more than just one game. From now until the end of the season, it's how can we get the team going again, and how can we work toward building for eventually the playoffs and a run to the Cup."

He likened the goalie situation to the power play. The unit was struggling mightily, and the Sabres tinkered with the personnel. But they didn't toss Chris Drury and Daniel Briere off it. They're not going to toss Miller out of the crease, either, at least not for more than a game or two.

And as to whether he'd like the Sabres to go back to their goalie rotation of two seasons ago, when the netminder who played well got to play again, Biron quickly shot that idea down.

"There's a big picture here, and the big picture is what everybody's got to focus on," Biron said. "I've said it all along. I've wanted to get more ice time, I've wanted to get more games. I'm not shy of saying that.

"But I think everybody understands. The players understand, too. Our power play was struggling a little bit. Well, it's not about switching everything right there drastically to make a difference next game. It's about trying to build for the next few months. I think that's the attitude the whole team's got to take."

That team-first attitude is why the Sabres who are at ice level on game nights want Biron in town next month, when the trading deadline has come and gone.

"He has some bad days [of being frustrated not playing], but he puts those behind him and gets back to work," Ruff said. "He always puts the team ahead of anything else.

"He may play more. It just depends on his play. I think we've got a situation where we still want to utilize him."


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