Miller Stops Flyers Again
Wednesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers had a shot to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Buffalo Sabres in their first round playoff matchup. That shot, like each one that came from their sticks was stopped cold by Ryan Miller as Philadelphia fell to defeat, 1-0.
For the Flyers, the loss may not have been the worst result of game four. In the first period, forward Jeff Carter collided with Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta and left the ice with a lower body injury. (clip below)
The team announced that a return to the game was possible, but the high-scoring winger never made it back onto the ice. Afterwards, general manager Paul Holmgren listed Carter as day-to-day. If he can’t suit up for Friday’s game, he may not be the only one.
Again, it was the thorn of Kaleta that stuck in the Flyers’ side when captain Mike Richards hit him with an elbow along the boards in the waning moments of the second period. The hit earned Richards a five minute penalty, and with the recent disciplinary actions taken by the league against Chris Kunitz, Steve Downie and Bobby Ryan, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that the NHL will review the hit further.
Even without Richards for the first quarter of the final stanza, and with Carter sidelined due to injury, the Flyers did all they could to muster a goal. The team notched 65 shots (32 on goal), their second highest total of the series. But, much like the highest total it came in a game where Miller simply wasn’t having it. He sprawled, lunged and dove his way to stopping the eleven shots thrown his way to clinch the victory and a series tie.
If the Flyers can take solace in anything after game four, it may be in the fact that they’ve done this before. Game one was an absolutely frantic game where the team failed to beat Miller, but they responded with back-to-back wins and beat the former Vezina trophy winner eight times in the two games.
With a similar dedication to getting pucks to the net in game five, the Flyers stand a good chance to retake the lead in the series. Thus far, it has come down to Miller’s brilliance in two games alone that has things knotted up heading back to the City of Brotherly Love. His wizardry in net can be enough to stifle any team, and the Flyers have been no exception.
Despite the game four defeat, Philadelphia regained home-ice advantage from the Sabres, and that certainly holds importance. Although the teams have split their games at both the Wells Fargo Center and HSBC Arena, having the advantage is certainly meaningful at this point.
In what is now a best-of-three series, the Flyers will have to solve the riddle of Miller before he locks them out of the playoffs. Twice before, they have. And twice before, so has he.
Philadelphia still has an excellent shot at advancing, but as Wednesday’s game indicated, the American-born goaltender still knows how to stop them.