The case for Ryan Miller for the Hart Trophy

Miller.jpgAs we near the end of the season, we’re going to take a look at
who we think should be three finalists for the Hart, Norris and Calder
Trophies, making arguments for each. We start with the Hart
Trophy, given to the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. Next up: Ryan Miller.

he deserves it:
There is absolutely no question who the most
dominant and most important goaltender for any team has been this
season. He has the best GAA (2.23) and save percentage (.928) of any
goaltender with more than 50 games, but this isn’t even about his
numbers. It’s about being the leader from the net of a team that
wouldn’t even come close to sniffing the playoffs if he wasn’t in net.

Hart Trophy should go to the player who is most valuable to their team,
while dominating the teams they play night in and night out. There’s no
question that the Sabres would never have been able to win their
division this season with Miller’s dominance, and this is one example of
team that is driven by the player between the pipes. Teams with great
goaltenders who are successful always have a strong presence up forward,
but the Sabres are a team who’s success starts in net feeds the rest of
the team.

Why he doesn’t deserve it: Once again,
it’s hard to find an exact reason why Miller doesn’t deserve the Hart
and that’s the issue with the race this season. He’s just fourth in the
NHL in wins this season, and some say that the Sabres’ defense is also a
good reason for his success. But that’s just a cop out. Miller’s been

Why he’ll get it: It’s tough to deny
Miller’s greatness, and when you see how successful the Sabres have been
this season it’s impossible to look elsewhere for another player who
has been more dominant and more valuable to his team than Ryan Miller.

he won’t get it:
He’s a goaltender. For some reason, some see
the Vezina as a good alternative to giving a goalie the Hart. It
happens, but it’s extremely rare.

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    It’s official: Crosby makes season debut for Penguins

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 18, 2015 in New York City. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    All signs pointed to it happening earlier in the day, but it is now official: Sidney Crosby is making his 2016-17 debut on Tuesday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Florida Panthers.

    Crosby, the captain of the Penguins and the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, missed the first six games of the season due to a concussion. He was injured during practice following the World Cup of Hockey where he led Canada to a championship. Given how much time he missed a few years ago with a concussion only missing six games a positive development for both him and the Penguins.

    Crosby will open the game skating on the Penguins’ top line alongside wingers Patric Hornqvist and Scott Wilson.

    Along with Crosby return to the lineup, goaltender Matt Murray is also in uniform for the Penguins for the first time this season and will serve as Marc-Andre Fleury‘s backup.

    Murray, who took over the starting job in the playoffs last year when Fleury was sidelined at the start of the first round, was injured at the World Cup while playing for Team North America and has been sidelined since.

    Even with the return of Crosby and Murray on Tuesday the Penguins are still missing a pretty significant player as defenseman Kris Letang remains sidelined with an upper body injury.

    WATCH LIVE: Sabres at Flyers

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 11: Radko Gudas #3 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Jake McCabe #29 of the Buffalo Sabres fight in the third period at Wells Fargo Center on February 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers won 5-1.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    The Buffalo Sabres visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. This match-up features two teams off to slow starts and looking to work their way up the standings in their respective divisions.

    You can check out the action on NBCSN or the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (7:30 pm ET).


    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Flyers put Raffl (upper body) on IR

    NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

    Bylsma: ‘We need to get more’ out of Reinhart

    Flyers put Raffl (upper body) on IR

    Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) maintains control of the puck against New York Rangers center Derick Brassard (16) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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    After missing the last week with an upper-body ailment, Flyers forward Michael Raffl has been placed on injured reserve.

    To fill his spot, the Flyers recalled Taylor Leier from AHL Lehigh Valley.

    Raffl, 27, has appeared in three games this season, scoring once while averaging 12:21 TOI per night. He hasn’t suited up since a 7-4 loss to Chicago on Oct. 18, failing to suit up for Thursday’s loss to Anaheim, Saturday’s win over Carolina and yesterday’s 3-1 defeat in Montreal.

    The Flyers are taking on Buffalo tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

    Philly could make this IR designation retroactive to last Tuesday, which is when Raffl last played. It’s unclear how GM Ron Hextall will handle Raffl’s $2.35 million cap hit with regards to IR, but he’ll need to do some adjusting soon once injured defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Scott Laughton get back in the mix.

    Five NHL team stats you may find interesting

    Nashville Predators center Mike Fisher, right, celebrates after scoring against Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, center, and defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson (4), of Sweden, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

    14 — The number of shorthanded goals surrendered by the Chicago Blackhawks. Yes, this topic has been beaten to death already, but for good reason. The next highest number in the NHL is eight, courtesy the Calgary Flames. It’s just very unlike the ‘Hawks. Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, two of the best defenders in the game, have been on the ice for nine PP goals against! Jonathan Toews, one of the best defensive forwards ever, hasn’t fared much better; he’s been on for seven.

    9 — The number of power-play goals scored by the Nashville Predators. A pretty remarkable stat, especially considering the Preds have just two wins in their first five games. That kind of PP production can’t be counted on to continue, so they’d better improve at five-on-five. Also, avoid the soup in Detroit. It’ll getcha every time.

    17 — The total number of goals scored in all five New Jersey Devils games. And in case you thought that was low, two of those goals came in overtime. So far, the highest-scoring game the Devils have experienced was a 3-2 loss in Tampa Bay, with each of the other four finishing with a score of 2-1. Average number of goals per game this season? Just 3.4.

    7.4 — The average number of goals scored in an Ottawa Senators game. In other words, the Sens have a new coach, but not much has changed. Ottawa has played five games and has yet to give up fewer than three goals. Fun to watch, though.

    -7.6 — The average shot differential for the Colorado Avalanche, who’ve still managed to win three of their first five. The Avs have only outshot one opponent so far, by just two shots in their season-opener against Dallas. In their last three games, they’ve been outshot by a combined margin of 105-62. To be fair, all three of those were on the road against tough teams, but lots of work left for Jared Bednar, too.