November 12, 2011
Milan Lucic(notes) is one of those guys with whom it's never fun to make contact. Just ask Dan Hamhuis(notes), who suffered torn muscles in his groin and abdomen trying to hipcheck the Boston Bruins' forward in game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. Or you can ask Mike Van Ryn(notes), who was obliterated -- along with the TD Garden glass -- by Lucic back in 2008.
Yow. It's a wonder Miller's head isn't still in the mask when it goes spinning into the crease.
Lucic should be kicking himself on this play, as he pushes the puck too far in front of him, allowing Miller to sweep it to the boards. Instead, he takes out his frustrations on the Buffalo Sabres' netminder, making no attempt to evade the contact.
For this, Lucic was assessed two minutes for charging on the play.
That was pretty much it for blowback, too, as nobody really rises to Miller's defense. Mind you, it's important to note that nobody nearby was really in a position to exact revenge: Paul Gaustad's(notes) a tough customer, but he gets there late and Nathan Horton(notes) grabs ahold of him immediately.
The other four Sabres -- Tyler Myers(notes), Andrej Sekera(notes), Thomas Vanek(notes), and Jason Pominville(notes) -- had a combined 113 penalty minutes last year. Lucic had 122. Thomas Vanek admirably tries to step in, but he bounces off Lucic like the Bruin is made of flubber.
It didn't get much better for Miller as the night wore on.
Anyone hoping the hit would shake him out of his recent funk was sorely disappointed: he would allow 3 goals on his next 16 shots (including 2 in 16 seconds) before leaving the game with an upper-body injury.
All this in mind, Miller had plenty of reasons to be upset after the game, but it was impossible to miss what he was most bothered by. Asked about his upper body injury, here's what the goaltender had to say, via John Vogl of the Buffalo News:
I'm not really going to get into that," Miller said in TD Garden. "I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of [feces] I think Lucic is. Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It's unbelievable. Everyone in this city see him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of [feces]."
He seems upset.