It was a road trip of high’s and low’s for Canuck goaltender Ryan Miller.
The Canucks returned from their season long seven-game road trip with a record of 3-3-1, although they ended the trip on a three game losing skid. They dropped every game in Eastern Canada, including losses to Toronto and Ottawa on the weekend followed by a defeat to Montreal on the night where they honoured Jean Beliveau.
Throughout the trip the Canucks saw many different performances from Ryan Miller. Here’s how it went down:
Miller came into the road trip on a high, as he entered the first game of the road trip against the Columbus Blue Jackets riding a shutout streak of 93:05. He had previously shutout the New Jersey Devils, and hadn’t allowed a goal since the midway mark of the second period in a game versus the Chicago Blackhawks.
He earned his second straight shutout against Columbus as he stopped all 31 shots he faced. Although the Canucks blew it out in the third period, the game was close in terms of shots and Miller made some big saves to keep his team in the game.
The 31 shots he faced were the most he would see in a game for the rest of the road trip.
Before we get into Miller’s downhill slide on the road trip, how about a nice family moment:
That was likely the highlight of the game for Miller, as he saw his shutout streak end less than five minutes into the game en route to allowing four goals. The Canucks dropped the game to the Red Wings 5-3.
Maybe it was the bizarre power outage that threw him off of his game, but it was not the performance he envisioned playing in front of friends and family in his home state of Michigan.
He didn’t fare much better during the Canucks next game versus the Washington Capitals, a game that he suggested he should start in because it wasn’t fair to Eddie Lack. In the end it all worked out for Lack as he had a shutout against the Pittsburgh Penguins following this game, while Miller turned in another sub-par performance against the Capitals.
The Canucks escaped with a 4-3 over Washington but blew a 3-1 lead. There were definitely some goals that Miller would like to have back.
This one by John Carlson never lifted off the ice, and slid right through his wickets.
Although this goal was due to a defensive zone breakdown by the Canucks, Miller let it in after he missed his poke check.
The goaltenders were the difference in the match-up with the Canucks versus the Maple Leafs, which was great for one team and not so good for the other.
Johnathan Bernier stole a game for his team after making 44 saves and only allowing two goals. The Maple Leafs were out-shot 46-28 in the contest, but still managed to win 5-2.
This loss could be pinned directly on Miller, as he allowed four goals on 14 shots before getting the hook in favour of Lack. On this night he looked nothing like the goalie the Leafs had become accustomed to seeing over the years.
No active goalie has won more games (32) vs. #Leafs than Ryan Miller. After tonight, it will remain at 32. Hooked.
— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) December 7, 2014
Miller Comes Full Circle
Miller rebounded from his shaky play on the last game of the road trip. It seemed like he was the only Canuck who was up for this match-up, as this was arguably the team’s worst effort of the road trip. That was not a huge surprise after their fourth game in six nights, but at least Miller came to play and kept his team in it.
Miller turned in 22 saves after his team only mustered 16 shots on the night. He could not be blamed for the game-winning goal, which occurred on a breakaway with less than five minutes to go. He was the third star of the game, and the only Canuck who deserving of that honour on the night.
This road trip for Miller was really an embodiment of his performance all season long. He has lacked consistency throughout the season but still manages to sport an impressive 16-6 record. His stats for the road trip were a mediocre 2.96 goals against average and a .894 save percentage through five games.
The Canucks are eighth in the NHL in goals scored, so the burden on Miller to steal games for his team isn’t as pertinent as it was for the Canucks last year. However the Canucks are also 21st in the league this season in goals allowed. The team is bailing out Miller by scoring goals, more often than Miller is stealing games for his team.
Of course it would be nice to have a balanced between the two, and there was a bit of everything on this road trip. The team played great as a whole against Columbus, the Canucks offence stole a game against Washington thanks to the Sedin twins, and Miller kept his team in the game against Montreal.
If Miller can’t improve on his .905 save percentage on the season, his record will likely reflect his performance in the long-run, rather than his deceiving 16-6 record thus far. This might be the best way to sum up Ryan Miller this season:
Ryan Miller’s numbers this year are ungood.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) December 7, 2014
KPU Journalism Graduate. Trevor has been writing for The Hockey Writers since October 2014. He has contributed articles related to the Ottawa Senators, Vancouver Canucks, and other issues/stories regarding the game of hockey. Trevor currently lives in White Rock, B.C.