St. Louis goaltender Ryan Miller isn’t the reason the Blues are carrying a six-game losing streak into the playoffs, but the team’s star trade acquisition hasn’t emerged from the team’s slump completely unscathed.
He has an 0-5-0 record, 3.82 GAA, and .856 save percentage in his last five starts. That hasn’t dampened his spirits though.
“Obviously it’s been a tough stretch as far as goals-against, but I don’t feel like I’m in a really bad place,” Miller said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I feel like I’m in a pretty good place, honestly. I know people probably will take that and just chop it up and laugh about it, but I feel pretty good.
“I can compete. I just have to worry about battling and competing. It was going to be the same job no matter what. Once you get to the playoffs everybody’s at zeros, so compete.”
It would have been helpful to have some momentum going into the playoffs, but as Miller said, everything’s been reset to zero now. Taking Game 1 against Chicago on Thursday (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN) is infinitely more important than any early April slump.
It’s also important to note that the Blues have been playing without several key forwards and some of their problems might be solved simply by getting some of their players back from the sick bay. At the same time, the Blues only managed to score three of more goals in seven of their final 25 games and were also shutout seven times in that span, so this runs deeper than one bad patch.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock added that the team’s focus needs to be on the guys in front of Miller rather than the performance of their goaltender. It makes sense because while they need Miller to be at his best, the rest of the team needs to return the favor.
Talk about getting thrown into the fire.
Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.
Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.
Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.
We’ll start to find out tonight.
Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.
— Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.
— Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.
— Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.
— Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.
— Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.
— Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.
Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.
“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly.
So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.
That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”
The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.
“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”
That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.
Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen