Canucks Army Postgame: Thankful for Ryan Miller

Cat Silverman
December 08 2016 08:58PM

Hey, Canucks Army! Backup goalie (and exhausted new mom) Cat here with your recap. 

How about Ryan Miller, eh? 

THE RUNDOWN

Final Score: Canucks 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 1

As a lot of you probably remember, I've been one of Ryan Miller's most vocal critics in the past. His refusal to adapt his style when he first came to Vancouver, coupled with a bit of an age-driven tendency towards injury, left me wondering if he could follow through and be an effective starter during his tenure with the Canucks. 

I'm happy to say, though, that he's taken that doubt and pretty much tossed it out the window. He was the best player on the ice for the Canucks Thursday night, and it wasn't even close - even after he left the game in the final period. 

An early goal for the Canucks got things going, then a lucky - for the Canucks, that is - bounce off of Ben Bishop put the team up 2-0. 

The two teams each found the back of the net during the second period, with each Bishop and Miller allowing one - but then a last-second goal (no, literally) at the end of that second period put the Canucks up to a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes, and that all but sealed the game. 

The third period saw Andrei Vasilevskiy hop into net in relief of a Ben Bishop who probably wants to take tonight back, but it was a bit too late. Goaltenders, as we aren't reminded often enough, don't score goals - and with a stone wall in Miller on the other end of the ice, there wasn't much the change could do for Tampa Bay. Add in one extra goal (a second of the night for depth forward Jack Skille, if you can believe it) for good measure, and the game came to a close with a 5-1 decision. 

NUMBERS FOR THE NERDS

chart

There's really not a lot to say here. The Canucks were outshot, the Canucks were outmaneuvered, and the Canucks... were not outscored. 

So there you go. 

GOOD

Ryan Miller. The good in this game is really headlined by Ryan Miller. 

Did the offense find a couple good opportunities against a not-great Ben Bishop? They sure did. Did they win the game? Probably not. If Ryan Miller plays anything less than perfectly during his time in net Thursday night, and the game could have easily been 6-5 when all was said and done. 

I don't want to overlook the contributions by Vancouver's depth, though. Jack Skille really took advantage of some major opportunities, particularly the fifth goal in the game. Then, there was Jayson Megna - who I really only think of as 'that guy Beau Bennett likes to chirp on Twitter', but who really took a lot of opportunities and capitalized on them himself. 

Four of the team's five goals came from supplementary forwards. In a game that was relying on goaltending to fend off an elite offensive force in Tampa Bay, that was huge. 

BAD

At no point during the 60 minutes of play did I look at the Vancouver Canucks on the ice and think that they were the superior team. 

Does that matter in a 5-1 victory? Ultimately, no. A win is a win. Teams don't get bonus points for winning the Corsi, or for dominating turnovers or scoring chances. Teams get points for putting the puck in the back of the net more than their opponents. 

As cannot be stressed often enough, though, level of play is a good indicator of how a game will go when all else is equal. When bounces don't bless a team with wins - when the outcome is the result purely of work and skill - possession and shot metrics do a pretty good job of predicting the outcome. 

In this game, luck aside, the Tampa Bay Lightning dominated. 

Tyler Johnson was unstoppable - even for the Sedins. No one on Vancouver's defense had an answer for the triplet line, and that's what stands between the Canucks and the league's best clubs. 

FINAL OBSERVATIONS

There couldn't have been a better time for the Canucks to have Ryan Miller pull himself from a game, especially for a minor tweak that sounds like it won't hold him out from future contests. . 

The veteran netminder was absolutely lights out for Vancouver during the game. Jacob Markstrom did a great job of holding down the fort in the final minutes, but let's not act like this was his win. 

The Canucks ultimately looked like a team that's redeveloping, retooling, whatever you want to call it. Was it a great game for them, though? I'd give it a solid 'sure'. 

6e4628d4894419a7d14609846bb369f2
Hockey Development with the Arizona Coyotes. Embarrassing mom of a little goalie. If you want to learn more about goalies, I work with InGoal Magazine (and sometimes, I do stuff with USA Hockey). Was once told I'd have better access to scouting reports if I became an ice girl. Decided not to. Yes, I hate your favorite player.
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#1 Frogger84
December 08 2016, 09:28PM
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The Canucks have one of the lowest PDOs in the game. They were due for some bounces.

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#2 GLM
December 08 2016, 09:32PM
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I don't think anybody has delusions that this is an elite team, but man to win 5-1 on the road plagued with injuries, you'd think there'd be more to talk about than the Canucks getting "dominated" and losing a corsi battle...

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#3 DJ_44
December 08 2016, 10:01PM
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That was a good game to watch. Miller was great, however the team played well. How many posts did they hit? 2 or 3? and then there were some great saves by Bishop on quality chances.

Did they deserve this win? Absolutely.

I have to say the i was most impressed with Biega. You gotta hand it to him. Get's nothing and then comes in and plays great....physical, positionally strong, made the right plays. All this in his second game of the year, first at defense.

Tryamkin, Stecher and Sbisa were also good. Hutton and Gudbrason, although the weakest tonight, were not so bad either.

Sven got to lift his game.

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#4 krutov
December 08 2016, 10:39PM
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bit of a debbie downer review.

canucks were buzzing a lot and could have had more goals.

the canucks have been beaten into a corner this year and it is not all their fault. it was nice to see them play with a lead for once. i don't know if they can recover any confidence but a few games like this migh help.

biega was great fun as were skille and megna.

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#5 Ragnarok Ouroboros
December 08 2016, 10:39PM
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This is great for pumping up Miller's value for the Trade Deadline. If Canucks sign him for another year I'll be happy, but if they don't then I hope they can trade him and get some assets.

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#6 Roy
December 08 2016, 11:05PM
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Where is the gif of Linden and Benning in the pressbox wildly gesticulating towards the ice at the end of the game because both of them are choking on "SEE?!"

Seriously though, nice to see PDO right the ship and some secondary scoring (lol Gudbranson?!) and Miller just own. Wow. That was serious athleticism.

And was Megna playing with the Sedins?! Or was that just after a PK.

Skille and Megna get two goals each?! Against (mostly) Ben Bishop?!

This game, summarized in punctuation: "?!"

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#7 tru north
December 08 2016, 11:11PM
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Sounds as if "Congratulations!" are in order for the "exhausted new Mom". Thanks for the recap and wishing health and happiness to you and your family.

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#8 Rodeobill
December 09 2016, 01:01AM
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Miller's best game of the season.

What an odd night, all the unusual suspects showed up. Not to cast any shade on a good win, but did anyone else notice how many times we fanned on shots and passes!? Especially Sutter - he could have had a 2 or 3 goal night if he didn't fan on some of those, and maybe got on the right side of the crossbar. Biega looked good this game, he's got some of the scrappiness we've been missing, but I'm still hoping to see Pedan too.

Man, I didn't realize how big Boyle is too, he must be tryamkin sized.

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#9 CroBear
December 09 2016, 04:26AM
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I don't see Tyler Johnson on tthe scoresheet - gotta disagree with your assesment of him being unstoppable. All in all, a fun game!

Congratulations for the new mom :)

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#10 LTFan
December 09 2016, 04:49AM
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Winning always beats losing and this was a good one. Miller was great. Biega showed that he can play in the NHL and play well.

Something positive to build on. Well done guys.

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#11 TheRealPB
December 09 2016, 06:53AM
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Most of my feelings as I watched that game was WHAT IS GOING ON? Perhaps most surprising was the fact that with the exception of Gudbranson's fluke goal they were actually pretty skilled by Megna and Skille.

The other thing I kept thinking is that as much as I like Garrison as a person, I am really glad he's not on our blue line. I think it's what drives me crazy about all the whining that the Canucks are NOT going through a rebuild is the refusal to look at what it means to get rid of so many vets with NTCs/NMCs. What would our blue line look like with Bieksa ($4 million, 1 point in 27 games, 15 points last season), Garrison ($4.6 million, 3 points in 26 games, 11 points last season), and Hamhuis ($3.75 million, 6 points in 26 games, healthy scratched twice) rather than Stetcher, Tryamkin and Hutton, all under $1 million and all needing time to gain experience and get better?

The work that the current regime has done in removing aging vets remains criminally under appreciated with all the focus on why we didn't get more draft picks. Your rebuilding strategy can't be to win the lottery.

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#12 Chris the Curmudgeon
December 09 2016, 07:56AM
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Canucks lose but run up the Corsi numbers = score effects, not actually strong play.

Canucks win but other team runs up the Corsi numbers = Canucks were lucky cause the other team played way better.

Look I have eyes, I could see that the team relied on Miller a lot last night, and I can see that this team isn't the elite force we'd all like it to be, but man alive is this website good at finding a negative spin for anything the team does.

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#13 backup bob
December 09 2016, 08:30AM
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Good game last night. Here we are again, one win away from playing .500 hockey. Maybe on Saturday we can get over this hump.

Last night highlights how important good goaltending really is. We got it, Tampa did not.

I thought Biega did a nice job filling in. Same with Skille, and Megna.

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#14 Tara
December 09 2016, 08:35AM
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Another hater-blogger! Seattle Oilers!

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#15 Dirk22
December 09 2016, 08:58AM
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TheRealPB wrote:

Most of my feelings as I watched that game was WHAT IS GOING ON? Perhaps most surprising was the fact that with the exception of Gudbranson's fluke goal they were actually pretty skilled by Megna and Skille.

The other thing I kept thinking is that as much as I like Garrison as a person, I am really glad he's not on our blue line. I think it's what drives me crazy about all the whining that the Canucks are NOT going through a rebuild is the refusal to look at what it means to get rid of so many vets with NTCs/NMCs. What would our blue line look like with Bieksa ($4 million, 1 point in 27 games, 15 points last season), Garrison ($4.6 million, 3 points in 26 games, 11 points last season), and Hamhuis ($3.75 million, 6 points in 26 games, healthy scratched twice) rather than Stetcher, Tryamkin and Hutton, all under $1 million and all needing time to gain experience and get better?

The work that the current regime has done in removing aging vets remains criminally under appreciated with all the focus on why we didn't get more draft picks. Your rebuilding strategy can't be to win the lottery.

Criminally under appreciated? Easy there with the hyperboles.

Rebuilding shouldn't be focused solely on winning the lottery but probably should involve focusing on the draft. From the three defencemen you mentioned the Canucks did not make one extra pick, Out of those contracts you mentioned, only Garrisons was one signed by the Canucks but you're acting like those should still be in the Canuck's hands?.. Benning did good to trade Garrison - nothing to show for it now though. Benning did well in the Bieksa trade too, only to later trade that pick. Hamhuis - we know the story (and you're really bringing up Hamhuis point total when our leading d scorer has one more point - and is making the exact same amount?!).

Basically his criminally under appreciated work has seen three established NHL defencemen turned into part ( maybe one leg?) of Eric Gudbranson (should we bring up his point total too for your argument?) . Since you say Benning is under appreciated I assume you think he should be getting more praise? He's made a total of 2 'rebuilding' type trades where he's sold off veterans for draft picks in his entire time as GM.

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#16 Dirty30
December 09 2016, 09:00AM
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Congratulations on the new goalie in the family!

And I get the cautious approach that we shouldn't plan a parade because Miller stood on his head and stole one. Nor should we break out the bedazzlers (I really have to stop watching Craig Ferguson reruns) because two replacement players had their career Gretzky game.

However, I had to read the headline twice, clean my glasses, make another pot of coffee and check other sites to realize the Canucks had won, scored five goals, on the road, and weren't playing an exhibition game against the Latvian B-team from the local seniors centre.

And I'm not supposed to get excited!?!?!

I'm excited just to be able to remind some troll that Ben Bishop is NOT the saviour of this team and he got lit up by a couple guys who don't even have their own permanent jersey numbers.

I'm excited that this is a win and I don't care how they get it, its worth celebrating.

So I'm planning a parade! Right down to the liquor store for libations, and while there I'm gonna bedazzle the hell out of the homeless dude with a donation to his own celebration, and then let the party begin!

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#17 Locust
December 09 2016, 09:00AM
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IS IT CHRISTMAS???

That was almost a positive story from Canucks Army......

Miller was great, the 'Nucks could have easily scored three more goals....

They won - JD must be pissed.......

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#18 JMoney
December 09 2016, 09:51AM
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Nobody finds the dark lining of a silver cloud quite like CA. I don't know what else I might have expected.

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#19 apr
December 09 2016, 10:56AM
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Congrats on new baby. FYI - Leafs are in last place in their Conference...again, Panthers are a joke...again, its snowing in Victoria, Nucks won last night, and someone brought danishes in the office. Today is a good day.

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#20 sloth
December 09 2016, 12:07PM
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Congrats on the new family member! And thanks for the write up - I tend to agree with most of the conclusions, and don't want to be too exuberant about a "lucky" win, but I took issue with one passage here:

"As cannot be stressed often enough, though, level of play is a good indicator of how a game will go when all else is equal. When bounces don't bless a team with wins - when the outcome is the result purely of work and skill - possession and shot metrics do a pretty good job of predicting the outcome."

It really irritates me when writers on this blog throw in some lip-service analytics in the game recaps, because I believe this statement is wrong on a couple levels.

First, I think the importance of shot metrics is being stressed too often and conclusions are being cherry-picked from very small and unrepresentative data sets. Second, the size of the sample from a single game is not enough to draw any significant conclusions about the future, and on the flip side, a team's possession metrics have very little value for predicting the outcome of any individual game.

That's because things like luck, venue, and score effects have huge impacts on the outcome of pretty much every game, and there is no such thing as "when all else is equal" in the real world of hockey. That's just the nature of the sport, so we always need to adjust shot metrics for venue and score, and also factor in PDO and historical shooting/save percentages to try to account for luck and the randomness of the game.

So while yes, possession and shot metrics do a pretty good job of predicting future outcomes, different metrics are more useful than others in certain volumes and applications (like close-score even-strength Fenwick vs. all-situations GF% over a whole season), and they all always need to be looked at as long-term trends, and then only used as predictors of results over the course of many repetitions.

In this game, the Canucks were up 2-0 within 10 minutes (yes, thanks to a complete fluke, but fluke goals are pretty common in the NHL). So there were 9 minutes of close-score data from this game, and then 50 minutes of the Lightning playing behind by 2+. TBL had about 60% CF over the course of the game.

Last season, every team in the league posted over 50%CF at 5v5 when trailing by 2+, with a range from 51.4 (VAN) to 63.6 (NSH). Conversely, exactly ZERO teams played over 50%CF when leading by 2+, with a range from 35.2 (COL) to 48.9 (STL). Based on this, I'd say the corsi outcomes from this game should be pretty unsurprising, certainly not interesting enough to base much post-game analysis on.

So if we want to talk corsi, we should be talking about it more like this:

This season at 5v5 the Canucks are 22nd in CF% when leading (41.7) and when trailing (53.5), and are 26th in close-score CF% (46.8). So yes, the Canucks are struggling to control play in games when it's most important (close), and this indicates that they are not an elite team in the NHL, and we shouldn't expect them rack up 100pts this season (no surprises here right?). But that being said, they're also dead last in the league in close-score PDO (96.5), which indicates they've also probably been quite unlucky when the game is hanging in the balance. So maybe we can expect (or hope) the team will improve its goal metrics if their shooting and save percentages regress towards the norm as the season progresses.

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#21 TheRealPB
December 09 2016, 01:57PM
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@Dirk22

I can't believe I have to go through this with you yet again, but here goes.

The point is not to ask whether or not we received adequate return for getting rid of these players or whether we did enough with the assets. It's clear that we didn't do much with Vey (the 2nd rounder acquired for Garrison) and it's debatable we got enough with the Bieksa 2nd rounder when it was packaged for Sutter. I've already said that the inaction on Hamhuis is one of my biggest dissatisfactions with Benning.

My point is rather that the ongoing narrative that a rebuild is not going on/has not happened is belied by the wholesale turnover of the roster from what Benning inherited. All I see amongst some pundits is the shaking of heads and clucking of tongues at the apparent refusal of the Benning regime to accept the inevitable and commit to a rebuild, one that is apparently all based on a tear-down. This despite the fact that there's no evidence that an actual tear-down works -- the present Leafs and Sabres being the only teams I've seen intentionally tank to try to do so and whose progress is still very much in dispute.

What I'm saying is criminally under appreciated is how difficult it is to get out from under ironclad contracts. We didn't sign Bieksa or Hamhuis to their deals, it's true -- and both of those as well as Garrison don't look like particularly good value (soon to be joined by Kesler though to be fair he's probably been worth it his first couple of years in Anaheim). But we did get rid of Bieksa and Garrison while they were still under contract to us. It's not easy to do that. I applaud any team that can do so. Sometimes it's through a buyout - and everyone had the two gimmes after the last CBA. But in many other cases it's been through the sacrificing a lot more, either in real money or prospects. I think it was smart for TO to get rid of Clarkson by buying the dead contract of Horton. They had the money to do it. It was smart of Florida's new management to get rid of Bolland's deal even if it cost them a good prospect in Crouse to do it. We got rid of 3 aging and rapidly declining defensemen (even if other teams don't seem to have realized it) and it didn't cost us much. That is what I think needs to be appreciated, as part of a long-needed rebuild.

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#22 RIP
December 09 2016, 02:32PM
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Dirk22 wrote:

Criminally under appreciated? Easy there with the hyperboles.

Rebuilding shouldn't be focused solely on winning the lottery but probably should involve focusing on the draft. From the three defencemen you mentioned the Canucks did not make one extra pick, Out of those contracts you mentioned, only Garrisons was one signed by the Canucks but you're acting like those should still be in the Canuck's hands?.. Benning did good to trade Garrison - nothing to show for it now though. Benning did well in the Bieksa trade too, only to later trade that pick. Hamhuis - we know the story (and you're really bringing up Hamhuis point total when our leading d scorer has one more point - and is making the exact same amount?!).

Basically his criminally under appreciated work has seen three established NHL defencemen turned into part ( maybe one leg?) of Eric Gudbranson (should we bring up his point total too for your argument?) . Since you say Benning is under appreciated I assume you think he should be getting more praise? He's made a total of 2 'rebuilding' type trades where he's sold off veterans for draft picks in his entire time as GM.

You always focus on the draft no matter the stage a team is at. You say we got nothing for those trade? Just because Dorsett has much needed surgery you write him off? Also we got Gudbranson who has his best 10 years ahead of him you do know that don't you? He's like 1 year older than Hutton.. Regardless you have to move those players to make room for the prospects. Sure, nothing for Hamuis but no one wanted him, how is that Bennings fault? BUT he did restock with a free Stetcher, right? Also comparing the points of prospects to the 3 vets is laughable. They are developing, that's the point. But the vets need to be posting points.

And credit to Benning to moving on from a mistake. McCann is going to be marginal at best.

Would love to watch you manage a team though!

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#23 detox
December 09 2016, 02:35PM
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@TheRealPB

nailed it.

whatever it is, it is never enough for the media.

I think we are better off now than before JB took over. every move hasn't worked out ideally but I respect JB's ability to move on from some moves he made that weren't working.

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#24 Dirk22
December 09 2016, 06:06PM
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TheRealPB wrote:

I can't believe I have to go through this with you yet again, but here goes.

The point is not to ask whether or not we received adequate return for getting rid of these players or whether we did enough with the assets. It's clear that we didn't do much with Vey (the 2nd rounder acquired for Garrison) and it's debatable we got enough with the Bieksa 2nd rounder when it was packaged for Sutter. I've already said that the inaction on Hamhuis is one of my biggest dissatisfactions with Benning.

My point is rather that the ongoing narrative that a rebuild is not going on/has not happened is belied by the wholesale turnover of the roster from what Benning inherited. All I see amongst some pundits is the shaking of heads and clucking of tongues at the apparent refusal of the Benning regime to accept the inevitable and commit to a rebuild, one that is apparently all based on a tear-down. This despite the fact that there's no evidence that an actual tear-down works -- the present Leafs and Sabres being the only teams I've seen intentionally tank to try to do so and whose progress is still very much in dispute.

What I'm saying is criminally under appreciated is how difficult it is to get out from under ironclad contracts. We didn't sign Bieksa or Hamhuis to their deals, it's true -- and both of those as well as Garrison don't look like particularly good value (soon to be joined by Kesler though to be fair he's probably been worth it his first couple of years in Anaheim). But we did get rid of Bieksa and Garrison while they were still under contract to us. It's not easy to do that. I applaud any team that can do so. Sometimes it's through a buyout - and everyone had the two gimmes after the last CBA. But in many other cases it's been through the sacrificing a lot more, either in real money or prospects. I think it was smart for TO to get rid of Clarkson by buying the dead contract of Horton. They had the money to do it. It was smart of Florida's new management to get rid of Bolland's deal even if it cost them a good prospect in Crouse to do it. We got rid of 3 aging and rapidly declining defensemen (even if other teams don't seem to have realized it) and it didn't cost us much. That is what I think needs to be appreciated, as part of a long-needed rebuild.

The only player that's applicable to your scenario of getting rid of contracts is Garrison. I agree that was a good one to get off the books. The return was even good.

Bieksa had a year left when he was dealt. That's not getting rid of an unwanted contract that's hindering them going forward - it's not like he had 5 years left at 4 mil or something. He dealt an expiring contract to recoup some value - something he should be doing more of but if we take him by his word he's not looking to do this year.

Hamhuis doesn't apply whatsoever. How would there be a COST to trading any of these guys? Even Garrison - he was a capable 29 year old defencemen with 4 years left - good for them to move on and get something for him but this isn't the type of deal you have to absorb any costs.

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#25 Dirk22
December 09 2016, 07:00PM
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@RIP

1. Dorsett was acquired from a 3rd they got in the Kesler trade. I haven't even mentioned him but if you want to get into a debate over his contributions I'm game.

2. Which prospects was I comparing points too in a way that was laughable? Please don't tell me you consider Guddy who's in his 6th season a prospect. Also I was being facetious as PB was mentioning Hamhuis' pts as if that was something he was ever really valued for. Looking forward to Guddy's 10 best years though.

3. McCann being marginal? Maybe? I don't know. I guess you're basing that on him being in the minors and his low point total in the NHL? I assume you share the same view on Virtanen?

4. Stetcher - great signing. Arguably Benning's biggest win as a GM.

5. Hamhuis - you know he was on the Canadian Olympic team in 2014 right? But no one wanted him? Yes he had the NTC but he waived it. This was a royal screw up - there's no excuses for a rebuilding team to just lose a player of that caliber with nothing to show for it.

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#26 TheRealPB
December 09 2016, 09:48PM
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@Dirk22

You're right we didn't get out from a contract with Hamhuis, though I would argue it was the right play to move on from him and not resign him. It doesn't matter whether Bieksa had 1 or 4 years left on his deal -- the point is that HE had the power (much as Kesler did) in that he had a NMC, as did Garrison. In both of those cases the Canucks needed to move on from players who were clearly on the decline (as I'd also say about Hamhuis).

The point once again is that moving on from these players shows both a commitment to a rebuild and at least some skill in clearing out players who might otherwise stick around as anchors. Many teams have struggled with such contracts weighing them down. How much better might the Flames be today if they weren't weighed down by the (expensive) NMC contracts of Stajan and Wideman? Tampa Bay is still committed to Garrison for yet another season -- he's given them 1 decent season since the trade and 2 pretty poor ones. Kesler at least is probably going to be like Eriksson -- decent for the first 3 seasons then a boat anchor the next few.

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