BUFFALO – Tonight’s not an audition for Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, Dan Bylsma said. A spectacular performance won’t sway the Pittsburgh Penguins coach into starting the American at the upcoming Sochi Games.
“Oh, goodness, I don’t think so, either way,” Bylsma, Team USA’s Olympic coach, said this afternoon inside the First Niagara Center. “Tonight’s not the only body of work from Ryan. He’s played really well this year. He’s played really well in some different circumstances. He doesn’t have a lot of wins to go with how well he’s played, but his save percentage and saves he’s made, he’s played maybe some of his best hockey.
“And his body of work is a lot more than just in what happens in this game tonight.”
Bylsma wouldn’t say much about his Olympic goaltending. He said he wished he could play all three on the roster. He joked other countries have offered to trade for one. He wouldn’t even say Miller and Los Angeles’ Jonathan Quick would split the first two games, a common theory.
Clearly, having brilliantly backstopped the U.S. to a silver medal in 2010 while earning tournament MVP honors, Miller’s the sentimental favorite to start.
But Bylsma doesn’t want to pick on emotions.
“Sentiment, emotion, it won’t play into the decision,” he said. “We’re real strong in net.”
Don’t forget, Bylsma’s a Michigan native, where the Miller family is hockey royalty.
“I’m a Miller family fan,” Bylsma said. “I grew up in Michigan. It’s not just Ryan that’s a face or a name in USA and American hockey, and Ryan has certainly been that.”