Vulgar Opinions: Miller vs. Enroth
With a Sabres loss to the Lightning that was equal parts bizarre and disappointing in which Ryan Miller started, and a superb 40 save win by Jhonas Enroth the following game, the controversy has started to brew in the minds of some fans. There isn’t one, but first let me give some background information before I say what I want to say.
I don’t like Ryan Miller. At all. There are a few reasons. The things I liked about him initially, his zen-like calm and his softspokenness, have evaporated in favor of punching opposing forwards, belittling opponents, and snapping at reporters. (And certainly those things can easily be called standing up for himself, enjoyable trash talking, and responding in kind to a stupid question respectively.) The second piece to the puzzle is the fact that his name is not, in fact, Ryan Miller. It is Ryan Miller, American Hero. In a city that sees more of the America – Canada hockey rivalry than probably everywhere else, the media has jumped on the Ryan Miller bandwagon with blinders, reckless abandon, and a gross tendency towards adulation when he plays well, and apologism when he plays poorly. Which segues into the third piece. I feel that the Ryan Miller puck bunnies (both make and female) are worse than for any other player. So you understand, Ryan Miller, not my favorite Sabre.
But I think you can appreciate the talents of a guy without liking him as a person (not that I know Miller as a person), or even as a player, and even while disliking him as those things. And to me there is no question that Ryan Miller is the most talented goaltender on the Sabres and the guy who should be starting the majority of the games in net. Even if you won’t admit to the first part of that, you can admit that his preparation and his leadership, and his experience, (and even his name and intimidation factor) give him an edge that Jhonas Enroth simply does not have at this point in time and may never possess.
I do think, even this early in the season, we are at a point where we can say, “Jhonas Enroth should have been played more.” We’ve played nine games, two with Enroth in net which projects to 63 for Miller, 18 for Enroth, and a mystery game. There are a couple of different ways you can go when looking at that information…either the sample size is too small and we’ll trend towards a more favorable ratio in time, or that Lindy Ruff is making the same mistake he always does with his goaltenders, and this time the excuse of “well the other guy sucks,” is gone. So to me the controversy isn’t between Enroth and Miller, it’s between Lindy Ruff’s past tendencies, and what seems to be the best situation when you have two solid goaltenders. Pegula help us all.