Ryan Miller is ready and standing by
SOCHI, Russia -- This shouldn't come as any surprise to anyone who knows Ryan Miller, but the Buffalo goaltender is all-in to help starting U.S. goalie Jonathan Quick in any way he can, including working with him studying video.
"I want this team to succeed, and I've been seeing things within the game that are different from the NHL, and we've been playing pretty much strictly NHL-style hockey for a long time," Miller said Friday, shortly after it was announced Quick would start his second straight game on Saturday, against host Russia. "Even in Vancouver, it was NHL-style. To win over here, it's a little bit different read."
Miller, of course, is the defending Olympic MVP, having backstopped the U.S. to a silver medal, losing in overtime to Canada in the gold-medal game. So, some expected him to start one of the first two games.
"That was four years ago," Miller said. "It is what it is. Not my decision. I'm ready to play if I need to be. Not going to take it as a slight or anything. I'm on this team for a reason and just be ready to go."
Some of the same for U.S.
Four years ago, Team USA faced a similar dynamic at the Vancouver Games, playing the host team during the preliminary round. In that early game, the U.S. prevailed 5-3 in a game in which Ryan Miller was sensational. Can the lessons of that game be carried over four years later against the Russians?
"I know we were excited for the chance," said current U.S. captain Zach Parise, who was part of the 2010 team. "We understood that they were the favorites. We understood that it was their building. We just, honestly, we just went in and played hard and whatever happened, happened.
"We had the nerves we had the butterflies but we just played hard and we played well."
This time around, it's not all that dissimilar, as Parise figures either Canada or the Russians are the favorites to win gold in Sochi.
"Just look at their rosters; talent-wise, it's one of those two teams," he said. "So I think we're going to find ourselves in a pretty similar situation that we did in Vancouver when we played Canada in the [preliminary] round."
Happy anniversary, Dan
Saturday will be something of an anniversary for U.S. head coach Dan Byslma, who coached his first game in the NHL five years ago, after replacing Michel Therrien for the Penguins, on Feb. 15, 2009, on Long Island.
The topic came up when Bylsma was asked about the emotion of coaching in his first Olympic tournament game on Thursday.
"Well, I guess I've had different levels of being a head coach for the first time," Bylsma said. "I can tell you that yesterday before the game, [like] Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final, I can remember being nervous and [having] butterflies, but yesterday's game, before the game, I had some time on the bench before warm-ups with nobody really in the building and it was special. It kind of took me a little bit by surprise getting ready for that game, and tomorrow, I don't know if I'm going to have the nerves but it's going to be a special game."