DETROIT — It’s not often a sibling rivalry takes place on this stage.
For the Miller brothers it happened a fourth time Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s fun for friends and family to watch that,” said Drew Miller, who got another chance to play against his older brother Ryan of the Buffalo Sabres. “We’ve got a lot coming to the game. It’s a unique situation to be to play against your brother at this high of a level.
“They try and stay neutral,” Drew continued. “My mom sowed a jacket that’s half Red Wings and half Buffalo, has both our numbers on the corresponding sides and Miller on the top. It’s like a jacket-jersey type thing.”
It’s the second time Drew has met Ryan on the ice as a Red Wing. Drew won the previous meeting 3-2 in overtime, he had four shots on his older brother was finished the game even in the plus/minus category.
Drew also played Ryan when he was with Tampa Bay (a 3-2 shootout loss, one shot, minus-1) and Anaheim (a 4-1 win, two shots, even).
The two could have met two more times, once last season in Buffalo and again this year. Drew was a healthy scratch in Buffalo last season and Ryan had just returned from a concussion and was the backup that night.
“It didn’t work out the last two games, which is tough,” Drew said. “I wanted to play against him last year, he wanted to get back from his injury and play against us, but it didn’t work out with that either. It’ll be fun to get back on the ice against each other and I’m looking forward to it.”
Wings coach Mike Babcock said it was an oversight on his part last when Drew was a healthy scratch.
“Last year I dressed Drapes instead of Millsie in Buffalo,” Babcock said. “Obviously, it’s tough for Millsie. I hadn’t thought about it in advance. I promised Drapes he was playing. His family was coming to the game (from Toronto). I hadn’t done a whole lot of thinking prior to that.”
The Sabres got into town Sunday so it gave the brothers and family time to spend together.
“We had lunch and dinner,” Drew said. “He came over to my place and hung out for the afternoon. Then my mom, my brother and sister came down from East Lansing and had dinner. It was a good time.
“I think any time that you can get away from the rink and get to see family and friends it always helps to recharge the battery, and hopefully after tonight it will be a good game for him,” Drew added. “We don’t get to see each other that much. We put hockey aside and spent time with each other and our two other siblings. My mom was there, but my dad was out of town, so he couldn’t be there. But it was fun to hang out, watched a little bit of ‘Modern Family’ on TV and went to dinner. We were there for about two hours and just hung out catching up.”
The two drew up in East Lansing and both played at Michigan State, but not together.
Ryan has struggled this season and much of it could be related to the hit Boston’s Milan Lucic delivered on him that caused his concussion. After averaging 37 wins over the last five seasons, he’s just 11-12-0 this year.
“You see around the league a lot of guys are having trouble coming back from them,” Drew said. “It’s a tough situation to be in and definitely as a goaltender – their helmets aren’t built the same as ours – and they have to track the puck and use their head a lot more. There’s a little more of a process for them coming back.”
In his first game back, Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo ran him hard while Ryan was in his crease. The Sabres goalie took exception to hit and began throwing punches.
“It was good that he stood up for himself,” Drew said. “A lot of the goalies around the league are starting to stand up for themselves, I know Jimmy (Howard) did a little bit too. It’s one of those things that are a gray area, but guys want to go hard to the net more and you have to protect the goalies, but at the same time guys want to get around those areas to get goals.”
Drew said the two don’t do much trash talking on the ice.
“I’m always joking about things,” Drew said. “Well, I can’t really joke about running him over, it’s a pretty sensitive subject now. I try and give him a little whack in the pads when I’m in front of him. I look forward to these games on the schedule.
“Every game you’re going out there trying to score,” Drew continued. “Just because it’s my brother I’m not trying to score anymore than if it was just another game. I would be nice to get one on him.”