BUFFALO, N.Y. – Lingering post-concussion-like headaches didn’t prevent Ryan Miller from airing his disappointment Tuesday in the aftermath of being levelled by Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic.
The Buffalo Sabres goalie was unhappy with the NHL’s decision not to discipline Lucic, who bowled over Miller in the first period of Buffalo’s 6-2 loss at Boston on Saturday.
“I’m not going to be happy about it, but I’m not going to speak out against it,” he said. “We’re going to move forward and we’re going to play some hockey. And hopefully, I’m playing hockey sooner than later.”
And Miller didn’t buy Lucic’s explanation that the forward couldn’t avoid a collision that was so hard that it knocked off Miller’s mask.
“I think he said what he had to say to avoid being suspended,” Miller said, referring to Lucic having a hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday. “It’s the NHL, man. The guy can skate. He can stop. He can turn. He can pick his head up.”
Pausing and then adding with a laugh, Miller said: “If he didn’t see me then, I don’t even know how that could happen.”
In speaking with reporters for the first time since being diagnosed with a concussion and whiplash on Sunday, Miller chose his words carefully during a nine-minute interview after he sat out practice.
Miller provided no timetable for when he might be able to play, saying he’s still feeling soreness in his neck and experiencing post-concussion-like symptoms.
Miller was hurt 14 minutes into the first period when he skated out to the right circle to play a loose puck that Lucic was attempting to chase down when the two collided. Lucic was issued a two-minute minor for charging.
Saying he felt fine after the hit, Miller continued playing through the end of the second period when he began experiencing tightness in his neck and fatigue. Backup Jhonas Enroth took over at the start of the third period.
The 2010 Vezina Trophy winner did stick around following the game to speak to the media, during which he called Lucic “gutless.”
Miller revealed that he and the team went ahead with announcing he had a concussion in a bid to make a case that Lucic should be suspended.
Sabres general manager Darcy Regier was expected to raise the issue of protecting goalies at league meetings being held in Toronto on Tuesday.
This is the second time Miller has sustained a concussion in eight months. He missed four games in March after being struck by shots to the mask in consecutive games. Miller also missed 13 games late in the 2008-09 season with an ankle injury, which he hurt while being upended behind his net by then-New York Rangers forward Scott Gomez.
Shanahan defended his ruling on Monday night, and called it “irresponsible” for the Sabres to suggest that it’s open season on goalies.
The Sabres didn’t escape criticism either for their failure to rally to Miller’s defence following Lucic’s hit. Following the game, Lucic expressed surprised that the Sabres didn’t attempt to get retribution during the game.
Miller called the criticism unwarranted.
“Lucic’s a tough guy. what are you going to do, try to hack him, spear him, cheap-shot him? Then you’re no better than he is,” Miller said. “I try to have their backs. I trust they have mine, so that’s the end of that one.”
The Sabres acknowledged a team meeting was held a day later in Montreal to discuss how they reacted to Miller getting hit.
“We’ve discussed this as players, we’ve discussed it as a team and we want to move forward,” captain Jason Pominville said. “What was said was said, and we’ve got to look forward to what’s ahead of us and not focus on what’s behind us.”
The Sabres bounced back by overcoming a 2-0 third-period deficit in a 3-2 shootout win over the Canadiens on Monday night. It was their fifth win in six games and pushed them into first place in the Northeast Division.
It was a game in which defenceman Tyler Myers—the NHL’s 2010 rookie of the year—was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career. He was relegated to the press box mostly because of his sloppy play: Myers has only four assists in 16 games, and has been on the ice for seven goals against in his previous four outings.
Myers was also on the ice when Miller was bowled over, and among the players who failed to go after Lucic.
“We’ve handled it as a team and it won’t happen again,” Myers said.
NOTES: Coach Lindy Ruff said he’s not made a decision on whether Myers will return Wednesday, when the Sabres host New Jersey. … LW Jochen Hecht has resumed practising, but there’s no timetable for his return. He’s been out since sustaining a concussion in training camp in September. … C Cody McCormick’s status is uncertain after he sustained an undisclosed injury against Montreal.