Ryan Miller: Welcome to The Elite

Ryan Senior Writer INovember 12, 2008

The potential was always there.  Big things were always on the horizon and it was always thought that special things would happen.

Even when he was a fifth round draft pick (138th overall) in 1999, Ryan Miller was still pegged as a potential starter and perhaps more.  The Sabres obviously saw that the dominating Michigan State goaltender had "it".  And they couldn't have been more right.

Taking over the reigns full-time in 2005/06, Miller has more than earned his keep.  Since that year, he has posted 106 wins, a 2.65 Goals Against Average and .902 save percentage, leading the Sabres to back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals appearances in 2005/06 and 2006/07.

Through all that, though, Miller was considered just outside the elite goaltending group consisting of Martin Brodeur, Evgeni Nabokov, Mikka Kiprusoff, etc.  This, even as the Sabres handed him a five year, $31.25 million extension this past summer.

Miller has responded well. Leading the suprising Sabres (8-3-3), Miller has posted a 7-2 record with a pair of shutouts. He is in the top five in the league in save percentage and goals-against as well.

Watching Miller, you can really see a difference in his game. He is confident and cool. He handles deflections better than most goaltenders in the league, becoming a master and putting himself in position to make every stop; whether he sees it or not.

Most importantly, the one thing Miller was lacking was a strong enough presence to steal a few games.  He has done that a few times this season already and I wouldn't be surprised to see him do it several more times. 

If he keeps up at the pace he and the Sabres are going, don't be surprised to see Miller's name on the list of Vezina Trophy finalists.

Buffalo fans are glad to see that "Miller Time" has finally arrived in full force.