Ryan Miller moved into second all time among US goalies for wins in the Olympics after a dominating performance against Slovenia, but it may not be enough to secure a starting spot in the net when Team USA heads to the quarterfinals in Sochi.
Miller was in net on Sunday as Team USA defeated Slovenia 5-1, giving Jonathan Quick a break after he had played the first two games for the United States. Miller was sharp in the win, making 17 saves and coming 17 seconds away from a shutout.
Though the United States had already ensured they would advance, the game was far from meaningless. They needed a win to secure a spot in the quarterfinals and to avoid the elimination round.
Miller, who led the United States to the gold-medal game in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and won tournament MVP, said he was a bit nervous going into the contest.
“Yeah, I definitely had some nerves,” Ryan Miller said. “It was an important game to ensure that we’re at the top of our pool.”
Miller had had a stellar Olympic career, winning six games and losing only once — the gold medal game against Canada. His 1.30 goals-against average is the lowest by any American goalie ever along with a stellar.945 save percentage.
Coach Dan Bylsma would not say if Ryan Miller or Jonathan Quick would be starting for the next phase of the tournament.
“I’m not going to tell you that now,” he said.
Miller has taken the demotion with grace, saying that Vancouver, “was four years ago. I’m ready to play if need be. I’m not going to take it as a slight. I’m on this team for a reason and I’ll just be ready to go.”
Ryan Miller could have some advantages over Quick, however. Though Quick can be almost unbeatable when he is hot, he is also prone to cold stretches. Miller has been more consistent, and has the advantage of more international experience.