13 February 2015
As the Vancouver Canucks look to cling on to their play-off place, the form of goaltender Ryan Miller certainly hasn't gone unnoticed. The 34-year-old proved just how important he is to the franchise with 31 saves in the 5-0 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Miller has been one of the Canucks’ standout players this season. His shutout against the Penguins was his sixth of the regular season, and 35th of the goalie's career, having an in-form Miller could be an important factor for those looking to back Vancouver.
On the back of a disappointing 5-1 defeat at the hands of San Jose, Vancouver's play-off charge got back on track with a comprehensive victory over Pittsburgh, with goals from Alexandre Burrows, Bo Horvat, Shawn Matthias, Zack Kassian and Daniel Sedin. But while the offensive lines made much of the headlines, it was another solid display from Miller between the posts that was the platform for what could turn out to be a big win in the story of this season. And it wasn't the first time Miller caught the eye this season, and the goalie has wasted little time in establishing himself as a firm favourite with the Vancouver fans since his arrival from the St. Louis Blues last year.
After being selected in the fifth round of the 1999 NHL Draft, Miller went on to spend 12 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres. He played 540 games for the franchise and built up a record of 284-186-57 with a 2.60 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage during his time in New York. And the veteran showed what he can do in the play-offs, going 25-22 in the postseason and making it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final in 2006, winning the Vezina Trophy after being named the NHL's top goaltender in 2010. After calling time on his Buffalo stay, Miller now finds himself at a franchise seemingly set for the play-offs and playing some of the best hockey of his career.
While Miller's Vancouver career might not have started as impressively as it could have, the goalie has improved his save percentage from around .900 to around the .916 it is now. That increase has been a fair reflection of the work he has put in since the opening two months of the season. The Michigan native is one of a number of Canucks players who could have a massive say on any chance Vancouver have of making an impression in the postseason. While Miller has been performing admirably at the back, Daniel and Henrik Sedin continue to lead the team with a combined 86 points while Radim Vrbata tops the scoring charts with 20 goals. If the Canucks are going to achieve anything this season, they are going to need to be firing in all areas. At the moment, the signs are certainly fairly positive that Vancouver are really hitting their stride.