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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    Oilers lament plenty of ‘individual miscues’ in loss to Ducks

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    The Anaheim Ducks are apparently heading out of town, reportedly flying a short distance west to Kelowna, B.C., and leaving behind the playoff-crazed city of Edmonton until the series resumes for Game 4.

    On the other hand, the Edmonton Oilers are left to contemplate what went wrong in a 6-3 loss to the Ducks on Sunday, as Anaheim got back in the series but still trails 2-1.

    From the 25-second mark of the first period, it seemed the Oilers were on a losing path in this one after Rickard Rakell opened the scoring.

    Edmonton did come back, but then quickly gave the game right back to the Ducks, who scored three unanswered goals and had completely taken the crowd in Edmonton out of it in the third period. They did a pretty good job of silencing the fans in Edmonton right away, with three goals before the game was 12 minutes old.

    “We worked our way back in, but it wasn’t our night,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan. “We weren’t sharp enough. Individual miscues were plenty. They were all over the board. You couldn’t even shorten the bench to find two or three lines. There were that many who were erring on a consistent basis.”

    The Oilers were able to escape Game 2 with a victory — and Anaheim with a 2-0 series lead — thanks largely to the play of goalie Cam Talbot, but the Ducks solved him Sunday, scoring six times on just 28 shots.

    The Oilers may have sparked a brief comeback, but there was really no sugar-coating this one, especially after Anaheim regained the lead and then badly outplayed the hosts in the third period — when the Oilers needed to push for the equalizer.

     

    Ducks light up Cam Talbot to defeat Oilers

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    Chris Wagner‘s first career playoff goal was the turning point in Game 3 for the Anaheim Ducks, as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 6-3 to get their first win of this series.

    Connor McDavid had just scored (another) spectacular goal, this one to get the Oilers back on even terms at three goals apiece after they fell behind 3-0 in the opening period. The orange crush at Rogers Place was, naturally, in a frenzy at the time.

    The tide of this game had suddenly turned in favor of the home team, which had a 2-0 series lead.

    As suddenly as the Oilers had come back to tie the game, the Ducks regained the lead. Wagner fired the puck from the side boards toward Cam Talbot, who misplayed the puck off his right arm and into the net.

    That was only one part of a difficult night for Talbot, who allowed six goals on 28 shots. Anaheim had built up a three-goal lead less than 12 minutes in and needed only six shots to do so.

    Talk about a quick turn of events. Talbot was sensational in Game 2, backstopping the Oilers to another road win with a 39-save performance.Edmonton’s troubles started early in Game 3. Rickard Rakell scored just 25 seconds in on a breakaway and the Ducks were rolling from there.

    Wagner’s goal came just 48 seconds after McDavid tied the game. Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler increased the Anaheim lead in the third period.

    This time, there was no inspired comeback from the Oilers.

    While the Ducks found their scoring touch, they also received a 24-save performance from John Gibson. He was at his best in the second period, making a couple of key saves, including a great shoulder stop off a three-on-one rush.

    Game 4 goes Wednesday in Edmonton.

    Video: Connor McDavid puts on a show with this spectacular goal

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    Connor McDavid has his first goal of this series against the Anaheim Ducks — and it was a beauty.

    (Another spectacular McDavid goal? Get out!)

    With one assist so far in this series, McDavid brought the crowd in Edmonton to its feet with a quick stop and cut back to his left against Sami Vatanen, followed immediately with a perfect wrist shot top corner on John Gibson.

    “McWow!” is right.

    The Oilers fell behind 3-0 in the first period, but that goal from McDavid tied the game before the midway point of the second period.

    The celebration didn’t last long.

    Just 48 seconds later, Chris Wagner‘s shot from the side boards, a rather harmless looking attempt, was misplayed by Cam Talbot to put Anaheim back in front by a score of 4-3. That’s the score heading into the third period.

    ‘We weren’t even competitive’ — Blues coach hints at lineup changes for Game 4

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    Lineup adjustments can be a common occurrence in the playoffs. Based on his comments Sunday, St. Louis Blues coach Mike Yeo is seriously looking to make some changes for Game 4.

    The Blues trail the Nashville Predators 2-1 in the series, following a disappointing 3-1 loss on Sunday.

    Nashville dominated puck possession for long stretches, putting this one away on a goal from Roman Josi after just such a shift — caused by a Blues turnover in the defensive end — late in the third period.

    Yeo praised the Predators for the way they checked the Blues, but was straight to the point with his assessment of his team’s performance.

    “I mean, we scored one goal tonight. Fact of the matter is, for a large part of the game, we weren’t even competitive,” he told reporters.

    “We obviously have to be way better. We have to make a couple of changes, personnel-wise, for the next game and look at the tape and see what we can do … a little bit better than tonight because it wasn’t good enough.”

    Despite getting outplayed, the Blues were, for much of the second half of the game, one shot away from the tying goal. But hopes of a possible comeback were nullified after a shift of about 1:10 of furious Nashville possession in the offensive zone capped off by the Josi blast.

    Blues defensemen Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko — who both had a miserable day in terms of puck possession — had been stuck on the ice for almost two minutes before Josi scored, per NHL.com.

    That’s one glaring example.

    “The way we played in our [defensive zone] matched the way that we executed, matched the way that we competed all over the ice,” said Yeo.

    “We were waiting to see what they were going to do. We were reacting to that. So we’ve got to initiate much better.”