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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    Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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    Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

    They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

    Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

    Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

    You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

    Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

    Read about that blowout here.

    Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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    Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

    Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

    It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

    The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

    This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

    Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

    On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

    We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

    Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

    Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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    After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

    Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

    The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

    Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

    Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

    Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

    Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

    Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

    Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

    Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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    It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

    After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

    Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

    Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

    The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.