Ryan Miller’s Magical Run Desperate For A Spell

This has turned out to be a pretty good season for Ryan Miller. He’s in the final year of his 3-year deal and although he isn’t playing at the peak level he was at in Buffalo, he’s turning in some pretty impressive numbers. If it wasn’t for Miller (and Markstrom) the Canucks would easily be playing for last or second to last place in the league.

Turns out they could carry on without out Roberto Luongo.

Ryan Miller has kept the Canucks in a remarkable number of games so far this season and it needs to be recognized beyond Vancouver. Since Dec 1st, Miller ranks T-9 in wins with 10, 11th in saves, an astonishing .926 SA%, and 10th in GAA with 2.30. Having a healthy defense corps that are capable of clearing out pucks or keeping them out of the zone could probably bump those numbers even higher.

He definitely gives the Canucks a chance every night and has shown he has bought into the current team plan, whatever that might be. Sticking up for Troy Stecher against the Leafs was the eye-opener for everyone. Things started kind of rocky for Miller when he got to Vancouver but now I wouldn’t mind if he hung around for another year or two while Thatcher Demko matures in the AHL.

The problem with running Miller night in and night out is that he’s “sports old” and at some point, he’s going to burn out.  In 2007/08, Miller played in 76 games, he won 36 times but lost 27 and lost in OT/SO 10 times. That season he allowed the most goals ever in his career with 197. If he keeps up his starts and plays around 54 games, he’ll be around the 140 goals against average or so.

Not the end of the world exactly but last season didn’t track so well when he started 51 so its possible the same could occur down the stretch.

There have been worse stories like what Calgary did with Miikka Kiprusoff from 2007-09 starting him 76 games as well netting 39 and 45 wins respectively but allowing 26 and 24 wins as well in the process.

Kipper’s goals against in those seasons were 197 and 209 respectively, which obviously would come with playing that many games but the Flames did not benefit from having a goalie that played every two nights. Having a goalie capable of that is great but there’s no way it lasts and everyone suffers in the process.

Miller needs a rest and whether its mistrust in Jacob Markstrom or the belief that you run the hot hand until it flames out, the Canucks can’t continue on this path. Common sense would suggest starting Markstrom at least once a week providing there are 3 games being played. There are streaks that go on where you have to roll with the hot goalie but no goalie wins every single game.

Even with Marky’s mundane stats, he gives the Canucks a chance every night and like a young defenseman, it takes some time to hone your craft. Considering the Canucks will be at a crossroads at seasons end with goaltending, it would be smart to get Markstrom in the net more than he has been. As of now, the playoffs are still a possibility and if Ryan Miller is going to be “the guy” then he’ll need to be rested and healthy.

He’s 36 years old and the Western Conference isn’t getting any slower so Miller has to be on point every night. This team doesn’t allow for him to make mistakes and some nights he’s been asked to make miracles happen. Those starts become more and more valuable as the season drags on and Willie Desjardins needs to realize a freak injury, which seems to happen a lot here, is one shot away.

Is Jacob Markstrom capable of carrying this current team? He basically did last year and with the goals coming from a few more players this season, a few new defenders that are holding their own and a division that has a wild card spot up for grabs almost every night, Markstrom isn’t in a terrible situation to fail.

Not completely anyway.

Ryan Miller needs to be spelled not just on the road, but at home too! Markstrom will get one start in the back to back games either Wednesday or Thursday and after that, there are two more back to back sets until February 19th. In between all those are games almost every second night which include a week long 6-game road trip.

There is no way he should be playing all of those and I can’t imagine Miller stays 100% during that time. It’s around the time when the toll of the game starts to wear on goaltenders and the little things start to nag. We’ve all heard and seen the stats since January 1st and Ryan Miller is definitely turning some heads.

Trading Miller doesn’t seem like an option now that he’s a family guy. He likes Vancouver, from what we read, and I know I personally wouldn’t want to be uprooted if things were in my favor. I don’t think it gets much worse for the Canucks but I’m wrong a lot. Ryan Miller can keep the Canucks afloat for awhile still but he’s only one guy.

Allowing Jacob Markstrom to take the reigns for a handful of games gives the Canucks a fighting chance for a longer period. They aren’t winning the Cup this year but Nolan Patrick doesn’t seem likely either so they might as well try and play this thing out.

Follow me on twitter: @always90four

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