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USA! USA! USA!: Ryan Miller's Case for the Olympic Start

Matthew YoungContributor IDecember 12, 2009

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 09:  Goalie Ryan Miller #30 of the Buffalo Sabres guards the net during the game against the Washington Capitals on December 9, 2009 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/ Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

The chants were loud and raucous. "USA! USA! USA!" rang throughout the sold-out HSBC Arena. The fans had good reason to cheer.

Ryan Miller had held the red-hot Washington Capitals and Alex Ovechkin scoreless into the third period. Miller had just dived across the mouth of his net to make a spectacular glove save on a shot from the Caps' Brendan Morrison.

The crowd, which had been appreciative of Millers play all night, leaped to its feet. That is when the chanting started.

The city of Buffalo has seen good goaltending before (See: Hasek, Dominic). When a Buffalo crowd shows its appreciation in that manner, it is not to be taken lightly.

Miller's statistics tend to bear this out. Through 25 games, Miller has a league-leading 1.82 goals-against average. He's stacked up 17 wins against just 6 losses.

He has carried his team through bad offensive nights. He has made the extra save when he had to.

He has kept the Sabres in games when they maybe should have been long gone. And he's done all of it with a humble we'll-take-it-as-it-comes attitude.

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"It took everybody to put an emphasis on getting back. We picked up sticks a lot, and Ovechkin had to really go to the outside a lot. He likes to create and make space for himself, but he had somebody right down his back. That makes it frustrating, and it makes it tough," Miller said following the shutout.

Simply put, Ryan Miller is the man for the job. He's humble. He's effective. He wins games against the best in the world.

And he fires up a crowd.

"USA! USA! USA!"