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Ryan Miller Interview before the Olympic Gold Medal Game

Ryan Miller Team USA Olympics

Ryan Miller caught the same flight to Vancouver with his Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, and even bought him a McDonald’s sausage ‘n egg mcmuffin at the airport. But the friendliness ended there.

“I told him that was the last favor I was going to do him,” Miller said. True to his word, he was the difference in the preliminary round as he stopped 42 shots en route to a 5-3 win over Ruff’s Team Canada. He’ll need to be on top of his game once again to lead the U.S. to gold in the final against Canada.

Here are the rest of Miller’s thoughts on the day before facing Canada for gold:

You grew up and now live near the border, so do you know more about rivalry?

“All the guys in the U.S. room, we’ve all been there, we’ve all played in Canada. I remember as a kid going into tournaments and you are 11, 12, 13 years old and (pauses to laugh) you got the Canadian parents yelling at you.”

What role will the last game against Canada play in this one?

“It was a turning point for both teams. We got some extra positive energy from it, maybe got some confidence. And it kind of jolted them awake and they smoked two really solid teams and held on against a very talented Slovakia team.”

What is your approach to such a big game?

“It’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s a big game but it doesn’t change the way we play. It’s a hockey game, it’s ice, it’s a puck, the kind of stuff we’ve done for years. Just going to go out and hopefully tie my skates on the right way and play a hockey game. It’s something we do every day. I’m just going to try and have fun with it. It is a great chance.”

What do you think of all the back and forth about who is favored?

“I don’t think anyone is picking for this one, are they? I guess things have changed a little bit but we’re not going to have a whole lot of fans here in this country. We’re working to something no one thought we could do. I just like how it all kind of spins around in circles. It’s really funny. They’ve played some good teams and won, we’ve played some good teams and won. It’s the end of the tournament and I don’t think anybody should be underdog or overdog.”

You’re listed as weighing 175 pounds, but that seems high?

“It’s less than that for sure, especially this tournament. I’m like 170, 172. In the summers I’m not bad, like 176, 177. If I really pushed it, I could really get up there, but what I do doesn’t really line up. All those fad diets, just throw 25 pounds of gear on and work out for three hours a day, you are going to be skinny. I stopped worrying about it. My body works for what I do. I’m in pretty good shape so I’m not worried about being thin, being skinny. If I get pushed around I know how to survive and I am strong enough to do my job and if anybody if coming at me or hitting me I know how to survive out there. I’m never going to be a big person. I’m always going to be tall and skinny so I need to maintain my body that way. It’s been a slow thing. Every year you find something that works for you and you tweak it.”

Luongo talked about having fun, that it wasn’t like Stanley Cup run?

“In a way I’m not sure quite how I feel. Whatever happens is going to happen. You have to accept that. It doesn’t mean I don’t try my hardest. I put my best out there and accept that at end of night if I’ve done my best I can feel good. I think that’s what he is getting at. He’s just going out, playing the best he can and whatever happens, happens. He’s having fun with it and I feel that to a degree. Just trying to enjoy every moment of it.”

Where does your calm demeanor come from?

“I’m getting older I guess. As much as is made about a goaltender stealing big games, playing well in a tournament, a goaltender really does reflect his team and if you guys really sit down and break down our film, you can see our team is playing really well. Prime example is last game against Finland. We’ve cleaned up some of the neutral zone stuff, the rush stuff was basically our forwards were getting anxious and trying to make plays. We’ve got a third guy who has been more responsible and we’ve had a lot more puck control. We’ve done well in our D zone, we’ve been desperate, our penalty killing has been good. So the poise comes from having a group of guys. It’s been a lot of fun to play with and we keep it very positive from the top down, from management to coaches. So you just kind of come in and it just feels good to go out and play.”

Did you play this game as a kid?

“I don’t know, there were all kinds of different games, Game 7 Stanley Cup, Michigan State University, CCHA championships, and the Olympics was obviously big. I got to watch a few of those as a kid. It’s exciting to be in it.”

Can you compare this to the Stanley Cup playoffs?

“I don’t know, we’ll see. So far it’s just been a lot of fun. I don’t know why, I’ve just felt really comfortable that things are going to work out the way they are supposed to work out and just going to go out and play hockey and do my job. Sometimes in the past for me it’s been playoffs are every other day and you play three, four good games you are barely through a series. This environment it is a little bit more night to night so it’s hard to predict how it’s going to shake out so you just kind of let yourself go and say whatever happens, happens and now were are here in the final game and you try to carry that feeling forward.”

There is lots of talk about getting more traffic, do you rely on teammates to stop it?

“Even they can’t really stop it nowadays. We’re not getting interference calls now. It’s up to the referees to watch the crease. We’ll see how the international rules affect it because they can be in the crease and get a warning and if something happens it’s not necessarily a waved off goal. We’ll see how they handle things. I’m sure the ref will be well aware of what’s going on because they came hard to the net in all their games.”

How important is this game, this rivalry, for the sport in the U.S.?

“It’s great for the sport. They are two countries with a lot of interest in the game and obviously in Canada it can define the sports culture. In the United States we are hoping to grow the game and a situation like this is a prime example of that. We have a venue, we have the attention, we’re going to try to make the most of it, not only for ourselves but because USA Hockey has a chance to expand and reach new households and create some more fans and maybe kids take interest and want to play.”

photo thanks to halfgeek

About The Author

Kevin Woodley

Kevin Woodley is a rec-league target and former contributing editor of the Goalie News magazine. He has written about the Vancouver Canucks and NHL for The Associated Press, USA Today, Sports Illustrated and The Hockey News for the last decade, and covered the 2010 Olympics for The AP.