By Mike Harrington
MINNEAPOLIS -- Be sure to keep it here in a couple hours for the latest updates on tonight's Sabres-Wild game from the XCel Energy Center in St. Paul. We're on Central time, remember, so the Sabres' "morning" skate doesn't begin until 12:30 p.m. in Buffalo. (And I might even have another travel story or two.).
There was certainly more from my side-of-the-road in rural-Minnesota chat yesterday with Ryan Miller that did not make my story on his Olympic selection in today's editions.
The most notable item was Miller's admission that the Olympic process has been a huge motivating factor for him to get through the Sabres' horrific rebuilding season. We didn't talk about Miller's contract status because nothing has changed with the Sabres still pursuing GM options, but it's clear he knows he's playing for a lot this season even if the team isn't.
"You can let the struggles be a distraction but I've tried to take myself to a different place here," Miller said. "The last couple years have been a disappointment career-wise not getting a chance to be in the playoffs and doing things like that I hoped to. This really gives you something that's one of your career goals."
Miller's goal was clearly going to fall short when Team USA camp was held in August. Embedded through the selection process were veteran reporters Scott Burnside of ESPN.com and Kevin Allen of USA Today and each wrote lengthy pieces on the selections that were published Wednesday night that you can read at the links below.
Both stories indicate Miller clearly started the summer as the No. 4 choice and kept rising and rising up the charts with his play. But both also seem to say that Quick is the No. 1 choice and would get that spot if he can recover this month from the groin injury he suffered Nov. 12 in Buffalo.
That's pretty absurd. It seems Calgary's Brian Burke, a main member of the selection committee and a regular this year at First Niagara Center, thinks so too.
Burke's comment in the Burnside article: "Their team is a train wreck. He's seeing a lot of rubber. He's been magnificent. I think the worst job right now would be the starting goaltender in Buffalo."
Here's Miller by the month:
OCT 1-10-0, 3.03 and .919
NOV 4-5-0, 3.08 and .917
DEC 5-2-1, 1.82 and .949
He was the best player in 2010 in Vancouver and USA Hockey loves that kind of experience. That said, moving new blood into the mix is important too and since 2010, Quick has won a Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup while Miller hasn't won a single playoff series. Miller told me yesterday he's still playing for his spot and those stories seem to back up his words.
He'll be in the net tonight against the Wild. It should be an interesting month or so to follow his progress and see if he can keep his hot hand going.