Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/17/07 at 08:42 PM ET
Ryan Miller particpated in an NHL tele-conference today…
Q. Obviously you went through this before, and what advice will you give to your teammates about playing an outdoor game, particularly with regard to how do you prepare for the cold?
RYAN MILLER: The hype, you just kind of focus on playing the hockey game. What I experienced at Michigan State was how everyone went out there and no matter if they were a veteran, everyone was kind of acting like a rookie, just try and go out and go a million miles an hour.
I think that the best thing to do is just play your game and take in the experience, because it is a great chance to showcase hockey, and looking forward to it.
Q. I know from the experience in Edmonton and Montreal, it was tough on the goalies because it was particularly cold that day and they couldn’t take advantage of the heaters except during TV time outs. Did you get cold in that game in the outdoors?
RYAN MILLER: It wasn’t so bad. We were in October and temperatures were pretty mild. It was a little bit breezy, so you know standing out there on the ice out there in the elements in the wind was a little tough. Got a little dehydrated quicker and a little bit of wind burn. But for the most part, it wasn’t as bad as what they had to endure in Edmonton.
But Buffalo is known for its very weird weather. It can be 50 degrees in January, or it can be completely the other direction. We just have to wait and see how the forecast looks around that time and adjust accordingly with how we draft, and if there is an opportunity to use heaters, or there is a chance it could be a little on the warm side.
Q. When you got back to the Conference Finals, talking about how close you were and important it was to get back, now with the changes in the off?season, is it hard to shake off the concern that you got that close and now you’ve taken a step back?
RYAN MILLER: Well, I think everyone in our team has stepped forward as far as experience?wise. So I don’t doubt that we have a team to get back there. I think that everyone has been talking about losing Briere and Drury who obviously were key parts from the team. But we learned a lot from them and guys are going to have step up and play bigger roles. We do have a core group of guys who are exciting to watch and are great hockey players.
I think the big question two years ago leading into the season was how are you guys going to make up for the loss of - I think we had four guys, (Jay) McKee, (Jean-Pierre) Dumont, (Michael) Grier and (Rory) Fitzpatrick. So I mean, it’s the same questions every year. Every team goes through losses and additions.
In our case, we lost two very talented players, but I don’t think that they defined the team completely. I think that they did a lot for us, but we also did a lot for them. It was a complete team effort, and that’s kind of what they taught us and preached through their leadership; we’re going to do it as a team. It makes sense that we remain that same team with that same attitude.
Q. Is that a confidence that had to grow over the course of the summer, or did you feel that way even on July 1?
RYAN MILLER: I felt this way for the last few years. I don’t think my attitude is going to change and I’m going to encourage the players on our team not to. It’s going to fall—leadership is going to have to shake out the way it kind of falls. It’s going to be a learning experience in training camp and about how things are going to be handled and the way they are going to be handled. I think that should be the only question.
Leadership is important, but I think we have the attitude there and evident with the experience there. It’s just going to have to be how we manage it. You know, I can speak for myself and say that I’m going to try and step up and do as much as I can with the experience I gained and then from what I’ve learned from Chris Drury and Daniel Briere and keep moving forward, because I think I’ve learned a lot from them, and, you know, I’ve put it as best to you as I can.
Q. You’ve answered it very well the previous answer but from this distance, the Sabres have been knocking on the door in the last couple of years. Have you had any sense of opportunity lost, to be that close and then to have to start at the bottom of the mountain again?
RYAN MILLER: Our team does it every year. So I don’t think there’s any question that every team has to go through it. I thought the Canucks did a great job last year of making the playoffs and they were strong and they are kind of in the same boat again. They have to make it back to get that opportunity again. Same thing in Buffalo. We don’t take anything for granted and we totally expect another year’s worth of work when we showed up at camp.
Q. On the outdoor game, is that something that will really excite you as a goalie? It’s a great thing for the National Hockey League, but are the players genuinely excited about this?
RYAN MILLER: I think so. It’s a great chance to be a part of something great. I think as a hockey player, you have a ?? I think there’s an obligation for hockey players and I think we have a unique challenge in the United States where it’s very regional, it’s very much a niche sport in some regard.
And I think this is a great opportunity to pick up some fans and help them appreciate hockey as a way of celebration. The fans here are going to have a great time with tailgating and leading up to the hype, and that’s something the National Football League enjoys every week, you know; the hype, the talk leading up to the game, the analysis leading up to the game and finally the games played. And then you have three days of analysis on the game. It’s something the National Football League enjoys, enjoys weekly, where, you know, people are talking about the sport all week.
And I think this is a great chance for hockey to pick up some people who can be fans.
Q. You know how well you were playing down the stretch last year, and Pittsburgh was also playing very, very well. This summer they did make a couple of additions that might be interesting in terms of their offensive capability, (Petr) Sykora, and Darryl Sydor on the defense. Just your thoughts on the Pittsburgh Penguins this year; a lot of people are touting them for a possible Stanley Cup run. Do they look that good to you?
RYAN MILLER: Well, they have got to come through the Eastern Conference, so they have to come through us.
Yeah, it’s going to be exciting to compete against them. Again it’s a competitive conference and we have to go through a lot of great teams to make that run. As we’ve found out in the past few years, people touted us and it’s tough to get out of your position to get that chance.
Q. How is your game going to again fit from having a guy like Jocelyn Thibault, a guy who knows and understands his role, as opposed to a guy like Conklin backing you up?
RYAN MILLER: Not sure yet. I just know that in spending time with Jocelyn in the last few weeks here that he seems to be a great person. I respect the way he approaches the game from what I’ve seen so far and he’s easy to talk to.
So in that regard, it’s going to be ?? it’s going to help me a lot to talk about what’s going on on the ice. And also it seems like he’s the kind of guy you can talk to about anything else. So I think that from what I heard coming in, he’s a great person and from what I’ve seen so far it’s true and I’m excited to be his teammate.
Q. With the losses you did suffer this off?season with the loss of firepower, you were one of the best offensive teams in the league last year, do you think that the focus of the Sabres will now shift to being a more defensive oriented team?
RYAN MILLER: I don’t think our style needs to change with the loss of Drury and Briere. I think that we played very well with the core group of guys that we have. I think that we did lose some guys who played a key role for us, but let’s see how some guys who had great years last year fill in with those roles, and guys who are promoted fill in before we start jumping to conclusions.
It’s been a very interesting kind of summer and training camp answering questions when people are really just speculating on how we are going to react. It is a tough loss to have to have Chris Drury and Danny Briere move on from the team, but I think our attitude remains, our talent remains, and the core group of guys remain.
I think that as much as they helped us out and were great teammates and very productive players, it wasn’t all them. A lot of what went into the game was the work of the guys who were put in. And if we can have guys step up, fill some roles; we’re going to have some new guys on the team this year, guys who are going to make the push to be full?time NHL players. I think we are going to have a drive and an attitude that should be assertive.
Q. Are there any players so far in training camp that you think are stepping up to fill those roles?
RYAN MILLER: I’ve been impressed with a lot of guys. I think that everyone came very hungry. I’m not going to get very specific because again, it’s still a competition and it’s very early in camp.
But I’m impressed with a lot of guys staying in shape and ready to go and ready to compete and it been kind of ?? first few days of camp I would say is a feeling-out process, but every day it’s gotten more competitive and guys are really starting to see that there’s a few jobs here and there that could be open and they are really pushing for it.
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