Now before you accuse me of being a Ryan Miller “homer” click here and please realize I’m not the first person to throw this idea out here. There are people, who are not Buffalo Sabres fans, talking about Miller and the Vezina; Crazy eh?
Ryan Miller has been one of the very few bright spots on the Buffalo Sabres this season and he’s been good, very good. Night in and night out the Buffalo Sabres can count on Miller to give it his all and be there for the team; his teammates know it, his coach knows it and a lot of fans can see it. Whether he’s just playing for a new contract or not, you can not deny the fact he been on his game this season.
While it may be a bit of a stretch to think of Ryan Miller as a candidate to win the Vezina this season, let’s remember the last time he
played in the Olympics not only did he win the Vezina, he backstopped the Sabres to the playoffs. So Ryan Miller and the Olympics seem to led down positive paths.
So how can a goaltender who has an 11-18-1 record be in Vezina talks? Apparently all they have to do is play for the Buffalo Sabres. Miller has faced the second most shots amongst any NHL goaltender and still maintains a .927 Save Percentage which is good enough for 8th amongst all netmidners. On average Miller is facing 39.5 shots against per game, not bad numbers for a netminder playing behind the worst offencive team in the league- heck they’re not that great at defence either.
So why doesn’t Miller have a better record? Mainly because he plays for the Buffalo Sabres who have a hard time scoring 2 goals a game. The general consensus in the hockey world is that a team has to score at least 3 goals for a chance to win a game. When a team scores fewer and still wins it is generally because the goalie stole the game. The Sabres have scored more than 2 goals in a game just 10 times this season compared to scoring 2 or less in 31 games this season, hard to win without scoring. If you can’t score you can’t win, period.
Miller has been one of the bright spots for the Sabres this season as he looked to rebound from a rocky year and win back his team USA starting job. He’s won back a spot on team USA and now he’s looking to earn the starters job, which should mean even better play as the season continues.
Miller seems to have re-found his game this season which is great news for him, team USA and of course the Buffalo Sabres. But compared to some other netminders like Ben Bishop, Tuukka Rask and Jonathan Bernier who actually have teams in playoff contention, Miller really doesn’t stand much chance in the Vezina race.
Miller definitely deserves a little recognition for playing on the worst team in the NHL, even Brian Burke said it “has to be the worst job in hockey.” He’ll be on the Olympic team and have a chance to challenge for gold, then after that who knows. Miller has been able to stop a lot of rubber at an elite level on a team not even close to being competitive in the NHL, but his chances of winning a Vezina this season are pretty slim.
Do you think Miller would even be nominated as a Vezina candidate when this season wraps up? What are your thoughts on the possibility of Miller challenging for the prestigious Vezina Trophy?