Ryan Miller deserves MVP recognition

Miller.jpgDirk Hoag of On The Forecheck has a great post this afternoon on who
the front runners for the NHL MVP award are, based on statistical
analysis of which players in NHL have positively impacted their team the
most. He uses 5-on-5 impact, power play impact, penalty kill impact and
penalty +/- for a ‘total impact’ that each player had on goals for and
against throughout the season. Says Dirk:

Remember –
these measures reflect the influence of a given player on the
performance of his team. They are not meant to be used a direct
comparison of players on different teams to say “who is better”. It is,
rather, “who is more valuable to his team”. Yes, this analysis does
leave goaltenders out of the equation, but we can argue over the Vezina
another day.

The winner according to his formula is
easily Alex Ovechkin. Sidney Crosby didn’t even finish in the top 15,
just in case you were wondering. But I’m left wondering: “Where would
Ryan Miller fit in?”

Dirk does acknowledge that this analysis
leaves out goaltenders, but I don’t think that goalies should
automatically be relegated to the Vezina. That’s the trophy for the best
goaltender in the NHL. The forwards have their own: the Selke, the Art
Ross, the Maurice Richard. The defensemen have the Norris. So winning
one of the others doesn’t mean that excuses them from being out of
contention from the Hart. Just because a goaltender wins the Vezina
doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of the MVP.

There’s a precedent for
goaltenders winning the Hart. Jose Theodore won in 2002 and Dominik
Hasak won in 1997 and 1998. It’s rare — by my count just six
goaltenders have won since 1923. So is Ryan Miller deserving this
season?

Miller is just 7th in the NHL in total wins for a
goaltender, five behind Martin Brodeur. It’s important to note that
Marty has started seven more games, however. Beyond that stat, Ryan
Miller is near dominant in every other category. He and Tuukka Rask are
neck and neck in goals-against average and save percentage, yet Miller
has start 25 more games.

There’s also the fact that there is
absolutely no way the Sabres would be in the position they are now (3rd
in the East) without Ryan Miller in net. That’s a tough notion to
quantify with stats aside from the normal goaltender numbers, and
certain tough to use the same system that Dirk uses above since
goaltenders can’t help their team score.

Yet you can’t deny that
Miller’s numbers are amazing; especially in this NHL that does all it
can to help the offense. It’s not Buffalo’s defense is carrying him
either; the Sabres rank 24th in the NHL in shots allowed per game
(compared to the New Jersey Devils, who are 2nd).

Should Ryan
Miller be considered? I’m sure he will be. Should he be a serious
contender for the Hart? There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s just as
important to the Sabres as the Ovechkin is the Capitals.

Can the
Capitals win without Ovechkin? It would be tough, but they’d still be a
very, very good team. Can the Sabres win without Ryan Miller?

Not a
chance.

You vote: Who should win the Hart Trophy?

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    Canada women beat Russia 5-0, will meet U.S. in hockey final

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — It’s part of the routine now, as much a staple of the Winter Games as the medal ceremonies, the doping scandals or the sequins on the figure skating costumes.

    The United States playing Canada for the Olympic women’s hockey gold medal.

    Jennifer Wakefield scored twice and Shannon Szabados stopped 14 shots on Monday night to lead the Canadians to a 5-0 victory over Russia and earn the four-time defending Olympic champions a spot in another gold medal game.

    It will be the fifth time in six Winter Games since women’s hockey was added to the program that the North American neighbors have met in the final. No one else has ever skated away with an Olympic gold medal.

    Canada outshot Russia 47-14 but struggled to pull away, scoring just once in each of the first two periods before Wakefield bounced one in off goalie Valeria Tarakanova’s right arm just two minutes into the third and then Emily Clark made it 4-0 just 31 seconds later.

    Russian coach Alexei Chistyakov swapped his goalies, but it was too late. The Russians still have a chance for their first Olympic women’s hockey medal ever when they play Finland in the bronze medal match on Wednesday.

    Marie Philip-Poulin and Rebecca Johnston also scored for Canada, which has won 24 in a row at the Olympics since losing the gold medal game in Nagano in 1998.

    The United States advanced to the gold medal game with a 5-0 victory over Finland earlier Monday.

    The Americans won the Four Nations Cup, third only to the Olympics and world championships in importance, beating Canada in three of the first four games in a Pyeongchang tuneup tour. But Canada has won the last four, with a 2-1 victory in the pool play finale on Thursday.

    None of it matters, really.

    The gold medal match is the game these two have been looking forward to since Canada rallied from a two-goal deficit and beat the Americans in overtime in Sochi four years ago.

    And it’s the only thing right now that can help the 10 American holdovers from that team ease the pain of their 2014 collapse.

    More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

    PHT Morning Skate: Olympic qualification matchups set; Ducks GM thinks deadline prices are too high

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com

    • The round robin portion of the men’s tournament is over, which means the qualification matchups have been set. (NBC Olympics)

    • The U.S. Women’s Hockey players proved to be activists in their quest for equal pay and benefits. (Yahoo)

    • German goalie Danny aus den Birken came up huge in a win over Norway. (NBC Olympics)

    • There doesn’t appear to be many quality American hockey players outside of the NHL. USA Hockey should probably be blamed for that. (scottywazz.com)

    • James Wisniewski’s father, who is in South Korea taking in the Olympics, has been diagnosed with a norovirus. (USA Today)

    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    • Ducks GM Bob Murray thinks the asking prices from other general managers are a little too high right now. (OC Register)

    • The ‘Hawks might be struggling right now, but they enjoyed a heck of a run over the last decade. (Daily Herald)

    • New Jersey has a pretty special duo in Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall. (All About the Jersey)

    Eric Staal has been an important member of the Minnesota Wild this season. (Fan Rag Sports)

    • Take a deeper look at what makes Aleksander Barkov such an awesome two-way player. (NHL.com)

    • Eugene Melnyck made himself the new CEO of the Ottawa Senators. (Ottawa Sun)

    • There’s always a difference between what a fan thinks a player is worth and what a player is actually worth on the trade market. (Spector’s Hockey)

    • Are the Coyotes actively looking to move Max Domi? Different hockey insiders have given us different answers. (Arizona Sports 98.7FM)

    • The Blues are in a Wild Card spot right now, so should they consider being buyers or sellers at the deadline? (St. Louis Game Time)

    • Dallas should consider making a trade to improve their struggling power play. (Defending Big D)

    • The Buffalo Sabres have been one of the worst teams in the NHL this season, and season ticket holders are paying the financial price. (Buffalo News)

    • Being part of the 2016 All-Star has opened up a number of different opportunities for John Scott. (CFJC Today)

    • It sounds like the San Jose Sharks will start using their old logo again. (NBC Bay Area)

    Cam Ward and his seven-year-old son shared a special moment on the ice on Friday night. (Charlotte News & Observer)

    • You can check out the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Rangers and Flyers by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

    U.S. women back in gold medal game after 5-0 win over Finland

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) — The Americans have done their part, playing their way back into the most important women’s hockey game of the year.

    Once again, they have a chance at the Olympic gold medal that has eluded the United States for two decades.

    The Americans are back in the title game for a third straight Olympics after shutting out Finland 5-0 on Monday in the semifinals. They will play the winner of the other semifinal between Canada and the ”Olympic Athletes from Russia” on Thursday, looking to win their first gold since 1998 when women’s hockey made its debut in the Olympics.

    And yes, the Americans understand the United States-Canada playing for gold is what everyone expects to see.

    ”Definitely the rivalry has been there since I think I was born, so everyone’s looking forward to that,” said 22-year-old Dani Cameranesi.

    This will be the third opportunity at gold for six Americans: captain Meghan Duggan, Hilary Knight, Gigi Marvin, Kacey Bellamy and twin sisters Monique Lamoureux-Morando and Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson.

    ”It’s honestly a dream come true,” Knight said. ”This is the world’s biggest stage. This is the game that you want. This is the game we’ve been dreaming of and to have another opportunity to get back here, it’s huge.”

    Olympic newcomer Cameranesi scored two goals and added an assist to lead the Americans over Finland. Marvin started the scoring, and Lamoureux-Davidson and Knight both scored during a 5-on-3 34 seconds apart in the second period. Maddie Rooney made 14 saves for the shutout.

    Finland remains winless in eight games against the Americans at the Olympics. The Finns, ranked third in the world last year, will try to take home the bronze medal for the first time since 2010.

    ”We’re got one thing on our mind, and that’s to get a medal,” said goaltender Noora Raty, who made 33 saves. ”They’re the best in the world (U.S. and Canada). We just need to get more girls involved so we have more to choose from.”

    The Americans opened these games a 2-1 loss to Canada wrapping up pool play.

    ”This was really a gold-medal preparation for us because they’re a darn good team, and we had to be ready to play,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said of Finland.

    The Americans wasted no time getting on the board. Captain Meghan Duggan found Marvin alone in the slot, and she beat Raty stick-side for the easy goal just 2:25 into the game.

    Finland lost defenseman when she had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room after a knee-on-knee collision with Duggan. She was knocked off balance before crashing face-first into the boards, snapping her head back. When play resumed without a penalty, some fans booed. Savolainen returned in the second period.

    Stauber said the referee immediately came over and said it was a collision. Duggan said she was really happy Savolainen got up and that any decision about a potential suspension was out of her control.

    ”There’s been some other plays that haven’t been put into question, and so I can’t imagine that there would be any disciplinary action just based on other things that have been let go,” Duggan said.

    Cameranesi put the United States up 2-0 with 1:22 left in the period, taking the puck away from Susanna Tapani and skating into the left circle before beating Raty’s blocker with a wrist shot top shelf.

    Lamoureux-Davidson’s slap shot from the left circle came with 2 seconds left on the 5-on-3 at 13:21 of the second period, and Knight got her first goal of this tournament by redirecting a shot from Sidney Morin with 5 seconds left on the man advantage for the 4-0 lead. Cameranesi padded the lead as she scored from the slot over Raty’s glove off a pass from Hannah Brandt.

    The Americans weren’t quite ready to turn their attention to a specific opponent just yet.

    ”We’re super excited to be in this position again,” Lamoureux-Davidson said. ”We worked four years to put ourselves in position to compete for a gold medal and we’ll enjoy this for a little bit, but we know that this isn’t what we came here for. We’re ready to go to battle in a couple days.”

    AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and AP Sports Writer Jimmy Golen contributed to this report.

    Follow Teresa M. Walker at http://www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

    The Buzzer: Auston Matthews’ late-game heroics; Pens move into top spot in Metropolitan

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    Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

    Players of the Night:

    Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: Giroux notched a goal and two assists in Sunday’s win over the New York Rangers. The goal was the 200th of his career. He’s been incredible this year. The Flyers forward is up to 69 points in 59 games, which puts him on pace to score 96 points. Giroux now has four multi-point performances in his last six outings.

    Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers: Like his teammate Giroux, Konecny also picked up a goal and two assists. He’s now accumulated 18 points in 15 games. Konecny is currently riding a four-game point streak.

    Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: Even though the Oilers are struggling this season, McDavid has found a way to remain productive. His hat trick in Sunday’s tilt against the Avalanche was his third of the season. After scoring 100 points last year, he’s on pace to hit 98 right now.

    Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins: Guentzel’s three-point night helped propel the Penguins to victory against the Blue Jackets. Guentzel now has five points in his last four games.

    Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks: Pavelski had a three-point night of his own against the Dallas Stars. If you scroll a little lower, you’ll see his spin-o-rama goal. The veteran isn’t having his best season, but he’s managed to pick up nine points in his last six games.

    Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are an offensive machine that not many teams can stop right now. Connor picked up a pair of goals against the Panthers, which means he’s already scored 19 times in his first full NHL season.

    Highlights of the Night:

    Taylor Hall comes up clutch against the Hurricanes:

    If you like spinning backhanders, Joe Pavelski has you covered:

    How about this save from Semyon Varlamov:

    The hand-eye coordination from Evgenii Dadonov is pretty ridiculous:

    Sometimes it takes two to keep the puck out of the net:

    Connor Hellebuyck made a sweet save of his own against the Panthers:

    Factoids of the Night:

    Auston Matthews‘ late-game heroics against Detroit:

    The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions are in top spot in the Metropolitan Division:

    Hall is en fuego:

    Scores:

    Flyers 7, Rangers 4

    Oilers 4, Avalanche 2

    Devils 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT)

    Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 2

    Maple Leafs 3, Red Wings 2

    Sharks 5, Stars 2

    Jets 7, Panthers 2

    Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.