(Yes, EK, I know you don’t care about hockey, but you’ll live)
Ryan Miller became a household name over the past two weeks, not because he was the goalie for Team USA, but because he was the exceptionally amazing, extraordinarily talented goalie for Team USA. Going into the Olympics, we were predicted to come in fifth. He’s the one who got us to the Gold Medal Game, which we ultimately lost in overtime, after a stunning comeback late in the third.
The only rest he got during the six game tournament was late during the 6-1 murder of Finland. During the six games he played, he allowed only 8 goals–a .946 save percentage. That’s even better than his .93 save percentage in the NHL, and he’s ranked the #1 overall goaltender in the league. He was at the very peak of his game for two weeks; he was the backbone of the team and the reason they made it as far as they did. Which is why it was heartbreaking to see him hunch over (see above photo) after allowing the game winning goal which gave Canada the gold. Though, “allow” might be the wrong word, because he had no chance. It was a defensive mistake and a little bit of luck that gave Crosby the shot he needed. Miller had nothing to hang his head about.
You could see the anguish and frustration on Miller’s face before, during, and after the medal ceremony. Like most world-class goaltenders, he blames himself when pucks go it, even when there was nothing he could have done. I just hope he listens to what Joe Micheletti told him in the post-medal interview: “Hold your head up high, you were spectacular throughout this tournament.” And he really was. He played one hell of an Olympics, and I hope with all my heart that the NHL lets players participate in 2014, because I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather have protecting the USA net.