Tag: Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller, Eddie Lack

Cratering Canucks put Miller in for Lack

Their first-round series against the Calgary Flames is really slipping away, so perhaps it’s time for the Vancouver Canucks to turn to Ryan Miller.

They’re doing it for at least part of Game 4, as they pulled Eddie Lack after allowing three goals on just seven shots. Here’s the final goal allowed:

Again, this may be one of those situations where a team makes a goalie change as much to wake up the team at large as it is to respond to a netminder’s performance.

This situation would get a lot more interesting if the Canucks can back into this one and make this more than a time-killing relief appearance for Miller, though.

Canucks confirm Lack to start Game 1

Ducks Canucks Hockey

Though there was little doubt about who’d be Vancouver’s playoff starter, head coach Willie Dejardins cemented it on Wednesday by confirming Eddie Lack would be in goal for Game 1 against Calgary.

Lack, who took over for the injured Ryan Miller in late February, has never appeared in the postseason before. That pales in comparison to Miller, who has over 50 Stanley Cup playoff games on his resume, and that gap in experience has led to questions if Lack is on a short leash.

Of course, leash length is also dependent on Miller’s health.

He suffered a fairly significant knee injury and appears to have rushed back into action. In Saturday’s season finale — a 6-5 OT win over Edmonton — Miller got the start but looked rusty and, afterward, admitted he wasn’t entirely comfortable.

“My goal was to get back, get some kind of playing time, get myself into position where I could be an option and be effective if I’m called upon,” said Miller, per Metro News. “I didn’t really set anything too high for myself. I wanted to move well … and it wasn’t great early on but I think later on, it sort of came back.”

Pressing Playoff Question: Which teams should be most worried about their goaltending?

Nashville Predators v St. Louis Blues

Short answer?

Several of them.

The long answer is, well, longer — just consider what’s about to transpire. Goalies in Ottawa (Andrew Hammond), Detroit (Petr Mrazek), Vancouver (Eddie Lack), Winnipeg (Ondrej Pavelec), Minnesota (Devan Dubnyk) and Tampa Bay (Ben Bishop) will all be making their postseason debuts, and we still don’t know who’ll start in St. Louis (Brian Elliott or Jake Allen) or Anaheim (John Gibson or Frederik Andersen). Nashville’s Pekka Rinne ended the year mired in a slump, and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury’s postseason struggles are well documented.

So yeah, just a few goaltending concerns out there.

Let’s start with the unresolved situations in St. Louis and Anaheim. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock hinted Elliott may be the guy based on his body of work against Minnesota this year, but refused to confirm anything — possibly because Allen was the better goalie down the stretch. Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau was even more coy, opting not to elaborate on Gibson’s health (he’s dealing with an injury) or how it could impact the starting goalie gig.

Clear as mud. Moving along…

In Vancouver, head coach Willie Desjardins won’t confirm the obvious — it’ll be Lack, not Ryan Miller, who’ll open against Calgary. Lack took over for the injured Miller in mid-February and impressively backstopped the Canucks to the postseason, with Miller getting just one start over the final two months of the season, a shaky 6-5 OT win over Edmonton in the season finale.

The real question with Lack is the length of his leash. As mentioned above, he’s never made a postseason appearance — a far cry from Miller, who has over 50 on his resume, and was Vancouver’s starter for the majority of the season.

The Vancouver situation is not unlike Ottawa’s. There, Andrew “the Hamburglar” Hammond will roll into the playoffs as the club’s white-hot No. 1, on the heels of a remarkable regular season in which he lost just once — yeah, once — in regulation. But like with Lack, one has to wonder what happens if Hammond falters; sitting behind him is veteran Craig Anderson, who had himself a fine year (2.49 GAA, .923 save percentage) and, lest we forget, won a playoff round for Ottawa in 2013.

Detroit’s in a similar boat to the Canucks and Sens. Jimmy Howard, the No. 1 for most of this year, has been parked in favor of rookie Petr Mrazek. It’s a roll of the dice from Wings head coach Mike Babcock, who’ll be relying on Mrazek — he of the 40 career NHL games — over Howard, who has 45 career playoff games.

Once place with no playoff veteran is Winnipeg, where both Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson are headed to the postseason for the first time. Pavelec’s the No. 1 based on his clutch work down the stretch — the Czech netminder posted three consecutive shutouts to close out his year — but it’s important to note that, for long periods this season, Hutchinson was the Jets’ go-to guy and only had 10 fewer starts than Pavelec did.

Then there’s Tampa Bay and Minnesota.

There’s no question about who’s No. 1 — Bishop and Dubnyk are locked in — but certain unknowns remain. Bishop should’ve gained some much-needed playoff experience a year ago, only to miss the Lightning’s entire opening-round playoff loss to Montreal with a dislocated elbow. How will he respond to the pressure this year? The same question can be asked of Dubnyk who, with his 29th birthday just weeks away, is the oldest of the goalies making their playoff debuts (and the most improbable.)

Finally, there’s Rinne and Fleury. The former hasn’t been very sharp since the All-Star break, going 12-11-4 with a 2.48 GAA and .911 save percentage — a far cry from the Vezina-worthy numbers he posted in the first half. Fleury’s hardly been Pittsburgh’s problem, but he now finds himself in unfamiliar territory; with a defense wrecked by injury and an offense that’s struggling to score, the Pens almost need Fleury to go out and win them some games (as opposed to past years, when all they needed for was him not to lose ’em.)

Scrolling back, that’s 10 of 16 playoff teams mentioned in this article.

Think goaltending might be a hot topic this spring?

Goalie Nods: Miller returns, Pavelec gets break after three straight shutouts

Ryan Miller

News and notes from around the crease…

Ryan Miller will start for the first time since Feb. 22

Miller suffered a knee injury that has cost him more than a month of ice time and potentially his opportunity to lead the Canucks in the playoffs. That’s because Eddie Lack was great in Miller’s absence and has been solid for the bulk of the campaign. Lack did admittedly get off to a rocky start, but he quickly put that behind him and now has a 2.45 GAA and .921 save percentage in 41 contests.

Those numbers are superior to Miller’s 2014-15 statistics, but Vancouver still might need him during the playoffs. With that in mind, he’ll have an opportunity to shake off the rust in tonight’s game against Edmonton.

Ondrej Pavelec will be a healthy scratch despite three straight shutouts

At any other point in the season, Pavelec being benched, let alone scratched, after posting three consecutive shutouts would be a big controversy, but with the Winnipeg Jets’ playoff position secure, this isn’t a shocking development. By starting Michael Hutchinson against the Calgary Flames this afternoon, it gives him a chance to stay sharp ahead of the postseason while also allowing Pavelec to get a breather after playing in three games over four days.

Connor Hellebuyck, 21, is projected to serve as the backup goaltender for Winnipeg today.


Sharks at Kings: Alex Stalock will play between the pipes for San Jose. It’s not known who will play for Los Angeles, but Jonathan Quick is typically a good bet.

Wild at Blues: Devan Dubnyk vs. Brian Elliott

Pens at Sabres: Marc-Andre Fleury will start for Pittsburgh. There’s a fair chance Anders Lindback will play for the Sabres, but that isn’t confirmed.

Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier

Devils at Panthers: Cory Schneider vs. Al Montoya

Blue Jackets at Islanders: No confirmed starters yet for this one, but Islanders goaltender Michal Neuvirth has an undisclosed injury and Kevin Poulin was recalled as a result.

Red Wings at Canes: Petr Mrazek vs. Cam Ward

Bruins at Lightning: Tuukka Rask will probably start for Boston; Ben Bishop will get the nod for Tampa Bay.

Preds at Stars: Carter Hutton vs. Jhonas Enroth

Hawks at Avs: Scott Darling vs. Semyon Varlamov

Ducks at Coyotes: Neither team has revealed its starter.

Read between the lines: Ryan Miller expected to start for Canucks in season finale


It’s possible by the time the puck drops between the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers on Saturday evening, the Canucks will have already secured home ice advantage for its first round series.

That depends on how the Calgary Flames do in their regular season finale earlier in the day.

The Canucks and Flames will meet in the opening round, however where that series starts has yet to be determined. It all gets figured out on Saturday.

Calgary plays the Winnipeg Jets in the afternoon. A Flames win would then force the Canucks to earn at least a single point against the Oilers in order to clinch home ice advantage.

So, that late game between the Canucks and Oilers could end up being completely meaningless, or there could be something on the line for Vancouver.

Based on the comments of Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins following his team’s win over Arizona on Thursday, it sounds like Ryan Miller will start in net, no matter the situation.

Miller, in the first year of a three-year, $18 million deal, hasn’t played since Feb. 22 due to injury. The Canucks may need a strong performance — from someone who hasn’t started in almost two months — to ensure they begin their series with the Flames at Rogers Arena.

Miller backed up Eddie Lack against the Coyotes, with the Canucks sending Jacob Markstrom back to the AHL earlier in the day.

And there is only one chance remaining to get Miller into game action before the post-season begins.

“You have to have two goalies going into the playoffs. You have to have two guys,” said Desjardins.

“It would be tough for Ryan to end up playing in a playoff game (when) he hasn’t played in for however long. Eddie’s played great. He doesn’t have anything else he needs to prove right now. He’s played really well, but we need both goalies ready to play.”