John Garrett: Miller time
I am prefacing these thoughts by saying that I know I played in a different era and the game has changed.
I know the players are bigger, faster and stronger than they used to be. I know the equipment is better, the training is better, the coaching is more thorough, but the game itself is basically the same. The thought process is basically the same as it was ten years ago, twenty years ago, even thirty years ago.
When a player has the puck or is chasing the puck and an opposing player is within five feet you better assume you are going to get hit. It is a basic part of the game. I played goal for one of the toughest teams ever assembled in the WHA, the Minnesota Fighting Saints. I lived the movie "Slapshot". I had guys to protect me, but I knew if I was 20 feet outside the crease in a race for the puck, even if I got to it first, I was going to get hit.
Ryan Miller acts like there is a rule that goalies should be given carte blanche and that they should be able to come out with no danger that they may be physically challenged. Let me say that I admire the determination of Milan Lucic, but I am not I big fan. I think he crosses the line more times than not but his hit on Miller was not one of those times.
Goaltenders are vulnerable because they have to focus on stopping the puck. The second time I had my nose broken I was looking through a screen and got hit from the side. I did not see the guy coming through the crease and with those delightful form fitting masks my nose shifted closer to my ears than my eyes.
There are five pages of rules regarding interference on the goaltenders. Most of them deal with players hindering the goaltenders movement when he is trying to stop the puck, but there are some that apply to contact when the goalie is out handling the puck.
Rule 69.4 " A goalkeeper is not fair game just because he is outside the goal crease. The appropriate penalty should be assessed in every case where an attacking player makes unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper. However, incidental contact will be permitted when the goalkeeper is in the act of playing the puck outside his goal crease provided the attacking player has made a reasonable effort to avoid such unnecessary contact."
Miller was out by the faceoff dot. He saw who was chasing the puck and had to know that he was going to get there just about the same time as Lucic. He was whining about how Lucic outweighed him by fifty pounds and should have laid off. If you weigh 175 like Miller does you should think about this first and make sure you get there in lots of time or sit back and stop the shot.
One Vancouver writer said that goaltenders with there bulky equipment are not good skaters. What is that? Goaltenders have the best balance of anyone on the team and are more solid on their feet. Did I like how the Sabres reacted? No. Even if there was nothing wrong with the hit somebody is still messing with your meal ticket.
They should have swarmed Lucic. Niklas Kronwall got hit from behind on Tuesday night by Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues. He is the same size as Lucic and three Red Wings were on him immediately.
Miller made this a bigger deal than it really should have been. Hockey is still a contact sport and even the skinny goalies should expect to get hit when they are wandering around.