That's no playoff beard on Ryan Miller's face. Look closer and you'll discern the makings of a playoff mustache and wide, triangular sideburns. Throw in some bell bottom pants and Miller would look like some dude from the 1970s.
It's a tribute to the late Rick Martin. Miller said his teammates were so moved by the reunion of former Sabres at the final home game that they decided to honor Martin with his signature facial growth -- a Rico-shave. The 'burns began with Patrick Lalime and spread through the team like wildfire.
That '70s look has inspired a "Mustaches For Martin" campaign among Sabres fans on social media. The players are also raising money through their annual charity beard-a-thon. Miller was a little sheepish about his spotty growth, but he said it'll grow in nicely if the Sabres go on a playoff run.
Buffalo's goalie will have some impressive mutton chops he if keeps playing the way he did Wednesday night, when he made 32 saves in a 1-0 home-ice victory that sent the Eastern Conference quarterfinals series between the Sabres and Flyers back to Philly even at two games apiece.
Miller's performance was reminiscent of another former Sabres great who was recently brought home by new owner Terry Pegula: Dominik Hasek. Considering the circumstances, it might have been the greatest playoff game by a Buffalo goalie since Hasek made 70 saves in a four-overtime, 1-0 win over the Devils in 1994.
OK, it's a far cry from that epic Hasek game. But late in the game, when fans chanted Miller's name after his save on Daniel Briere, it was the most emotional moment between the fans and a Sabre since Miller's first home game after the Olympics in early March of 2010.
After watching Miller lead the U.S. to within an eyelash of a gold medal and become a national hero, Sabres fans felt anything was possible. There was no telling how far a team could go with the "best goalie on the planet" standing in the Buffalo net.
Sentiments quickly changed, however. The Sabres lost in the first round last year. Teams with lesser goalies advanced to the conference finals. The prevailing wisdom on goalies began to change. Suddenly, it appeared you didn't need a great goalie to win the Stanley Cup, after all.
"I would probably disagree with that," defenseman Chris Butler said. "You need a great goalie and you need a good team defense. That sometimes starts with our offense."
Butler makes a good point. It's nice to have an elite goaltender. A great goalie can steal a game, or even a series. Bad goaltending can sink a team at playoff time. But generally, it's the team that complements good goaltending with a sound team defense and balanced, opportunistic offense that makes a Cup run.
Miller earns the affection of his fans
Buffalo News | Apr 22