Tag Archives: Vancouver Canucks

Run Of The Miller

Seven years ago, Ryan Miller was the best American bread goaltender in the world, backstopping team USA to a gold medal showdown against Canada at the Vancouver Olympics. While the outcome was not in his favor, it can be argued it was still his crowning achievement as a professional.

You wouldn’t know it by looking at him now, but Miller was once one of the games most positionally sound goaltenders.

Buffalo’s saving grace and one of the best NCAA hockey players ever.

At 36 years old, Miller is far beyond his peak. Plateauing in the playoffs and struggling to regain his broken footing, Vancouver swept him off his feet in 2014. But in the days that followed, it’s been anything but a match made in heaven.

At every level of competition, Miller was a standout. At Michigan State, he set an NCAA record 26 shutouts in a single season. It didn’t take long for him to crack Buffalo’s roster and by the conclusion of the 2005-06 season, he was the undisputed starter.

2006-07 was dominated by Miller starting 63 games and posting a 0.911 save percentage and a 2.72 GAA.  Good enough to get the Sabres back in the Conference Finals. However, they were ousted by Ottawa in five games.

His success continued into 2012 when he surpassed Dominik Hasek’s franchise record for wins taking only 6 years to do so compared to Hasek’s 9.

Unfortunately, Miller’s stout play didn’t translate to universal success for the Sabres. Offensively being one of the most abysmal teams in the league and decimated by injury, Miller would only play 40 games during the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons  with the Sabres putting up pedestrian numbers at best.

Buffalo/Boston is your fathers rivalry. Sure, the two teams went back and forth on several occasions in latter stages of the 2000’s, but it was a one sided affair.

Once Buffalo began to lose their grip on the regular season, the rivalry was all but an after thought. That was until Milan Lucic planted his own personal bench mark in history.

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Buffalo came to the Boston Garden on November 12th to take on the defending Stanley Cup champions. Lucic was sent on a break for the net when the puck got away from him at the Buffalo blue line. Miller then charged out to play the loose puck but after doing so, Lucic followed through with his hit.

Less than a month later, in a game against the Predators, Jordin Tootoo dipped his shoulder and drove to the net hard. Colliding hard with Miller, infuriated by the contact, he retaliated immediately which caused a line brawl.

This could be the beginning of the snowball effect which eventually lead to the next chapter in Miller’s career.

In early 2014, Miller was sent to St. Louis in the hopes that a change of scenery would be good for the goaltender with a lot of tread on the tires.

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Chicago ousted St. Louis in the first round of playoffs and a less than outstanding showing from Miller made him the odd man out.

Vancouver, who recently lost the services of their longtime goaltender Roberto Luongo, quickly signed Miller to a 3 year 18 million dollar contract. In the two seasons since the signing, Vancouver’s production has dipped significantly compared to the offensive power house they were once considered.

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In three playoff games in 2014-15, Miller only managed to go 1-1 with Eddie Lack coming in relief in the third game.

Briefly looking over his stats, Miller throughout his career has been extremely consistent. Aside from a few blemishes in 11 seasons, his save percentage is .916 and his GAA is 2.60. Which makes you wonder if he is the actual issue?

Early in his career, Buffalo boasted some talented teams, but they lacked the killer instinct and always seemed to come one goal shy of accomplishing their goal. Without a doubt Miller was the reason they enjoyed the success they had. It’s a shame the team around him was never able to support him. I imagine if they were able to draft a player like Jack Eichel during Miller’s peak in Buffalo, things may have ended differently.

While in St. Louis, it was too little too late. Ken Hitchcock even commented that with a player like Miller, they would have rather acquired him in the offseason. The idea being that the more time to integrate him to the game plan would mean more success he would have enjoyed.

Vancouver initially appears to be a wash. While in his first season, he was able to back stop another playoff appearance, the Canucks missed the spring tournament last season. With 2016-17 offering no relief to the aging core of players, it would take more than a Christmas miracle to qualify.

Unfortunately, more so for Miller, the market for an aging veteran goaltender is scarce. Especially one that wishes to see a significant portion of live action down the road.

What truly is unfortunate is how promising the career of Ryan Miller started out compared to how it’s going to end. I like a lot of others hope that the Canucks can right the ship and end the season as a playoff contender, but even then, nothing is guaranteed.

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Pacific Division All-Time Greatest Rosters

In the final installment of the greatest all-time roster for all 30 NHL franchises we head to the west coast to look into the Pacific Division. The California teams have dominated this division for the ten years, but 6 of these 7 teams have at least made it to the Stanley Cup Final since 2004, sorry Pookie but the one team who hasn’t is the Coyotes. We will also explore the Eastern and Western Conference playoff picture and declare a Stanley Cup Champion based on the entire all-time greatest roster series. So, sit back, relax, and get ready for some great hockey knowledge to be dropped on you.

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1. Edmonton Oilers:

Forwards

Ryan Smyth-Wayne Gretzky-Jari Kurri

Esa Tikkanen-Mark Messier-Glenn Anderson

Craig MacTavish-Doug Weight-Ales Hemsky

Todd Marchant-Shawn Horcoff-Taylor Hall

Defense

Paul Coffey-Kevin Lowe

Charles Huddy-Randall Gregg

James Smith-Jannee Niinimaa

Goalie

Grant Fuhr

Holy $#!%… This team gives me nightmares. I want to go to all 82 games and watch them take advantage of everyone. No questions asked that the Oilers will win the Pacific Division, and maybe a lot more. This team is stacked to the brim with talent. The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, will lead the team, and probably the league in goals and points most likely. Mark Messier isn’t even on the first line, and Dough Weight is a third liner. This is literally making my head spin, but maybe it’s the Tedy Bruschi getting to me right now, who knows, stay tuned. The defense may be the only gap on this team, but Paul Coffey is a thug and he will no doubt hold down the big minutes for the Oilers as they make their run at Lord Stanley. And when it comes to goalie there is only one choice, Grant Fuhr. Fuhr is the all-time wins leader for Edmonton and he will be a solid net minder for Wayne and the boys to play in front of. Not a lot to say about this team cause the roster speaks for itself, but wouldn’t you love to watch this team play just once? Wow.

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2. Anaheim Ducks:

Forwards

Paul Kariya-Ryan Getzlaf-Teemu Selanne

Andy McDonald-Steve Rucchin-Corey Perry

Chris Kunitz-Saku Koivu-Bobby Ryan

Andrew Cogliano-Rob Niedermayer-Matt Cullen

Defense

Scott Niedermayer-Francois Beauchemin

Cam Fowler-Chris Pronger

Lubomir Visnovsky-Oleg Tverdovsky

Goalie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

The first line of the Anaheim Ducks all-time team is pretty loaded, Paul Kariya, Ryan Getzlaf, and of course Teemu Selanne make for a starting line that any team would be happy with. But can they compete with that Oilers top line? I don’t quite think so. The offense will have games where I can see them exploding for 6 or 7 goals a night, but they will have their fair share of shutouts as well. The team is going to need to rely heavily on defense and goaltending to help carry them at times, especially come to the playoffs. Scott Niedermayer is the go to on defense for the Ducks. Chris Pronger and Cam Fowler make up a very nice second unit as well. And now time for my biased opinion, Jean-Sebasten Giguere is a great goalie and will lead the Ducks to a second place finish in the Pacific Division. I love me some Giggy Giguere and I would love to see him still in the show, but I get to fall asleep every night with him watching over me on my shelf, God love JS Giguere.

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3. Los Angeles Kings:

Forwards

Luc Robitalle-Marcel Dionne-Dave Taylor

Anze Kopitar-Wayne Gretzky-Dustin Brown

Alex Frolov-Bernie Nicholls-James Fox

Bob Berry-Robert Goring-Ziggy Palffy

Defense

Rob Blake-Drew Doughty

Steve Duchesne-Lubomir Visnovsky

Mark Hardy-Marty McSorley

Goalie

Jonathan Quick

Very good looking team right here. But why third behind Anaheim? Call it a gut feeling. But that will give us a great LA vs Anaheim first round matchup, look for the upset there. Top 2 lines are something of legends, the bottom two are highlighted by Alex Frolov, yikes. Robitalle, Dionne, Kopitar, and Gretzky are the 4 leading scorers when it’s all said and done, and maybe they can contend with Gretzkys other club up in Edmonton in round 2. I want to watch that top two line practice honestly, it would be like watching Bob Ross paint a beautiful masterpiece of a mountain range, like I said, stuff of legends. Defense is firm. Blake and Doughty are men among boys in a league like this, they will hold down the fort night in and night out. Jonathan Quick put Hollywood on his back and carried the 8 seed Kings to their first Stanley Cup Championship in 2012, then he did it again in 2014. He is a future hall of famer and he is one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game of ice hockey.

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4. Calgary Flames:

Forwards

Jarome Iginla-Theoren Fleury-Joe Nieuwendyk

Gary Roberts-Lanny McDonald-Kent Nilsson

Hakan Loob-Joel Otto-Jim Peplinski

Joe Mullen-Craig Conroy-Alex Tanguay

Defense

Al MacInnis-Gary Suter

Paul Reinhart-Mark Giordano

Phil Housley-Dion Phaneuf

Goalie

Mikka Kiprusoff

I am a sucker for the Calgary Flames. I will never forget watching game 7 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Final in my Aunts bedroom of my Grandparents house, I was a huge Jarome Iginla fan, and I was heartbroken when they lost. So, speaking of Jarome Iginla, he is undoubtedly one of my favourite players of all-time, and he also the greatest Flame of all-time. Add Fleury and Nieuwendyk to Iggy and that is a great first line. Lanny McDonald bringing Calgary its only Stanley Cup back in 1988 is a story all hockey fans love to hear about. Lanny rocked the hell out of the fire red stache, and watching him raise the cup gives me chills every time. The back half of the offense lacks the fire power you would like to have on an all-time team, but it is by no means a bad bottom 6. The defense is really strong. Al MacInnis and Gary Suter are a fantastic top pair to have on your team. But the second pair is just as good with Paul Reinhart and Mark Giordano. Phil Housley and Dion Phaneuf were great Flames back in their primes, Phaneuf now sucks and is in Ottawa I think, who cares though. Mikka Kiprusoff was an unreal goalie. He was one of the most flexible keepers I can ever remember watching play, and he almost won the Flames that Stanley Cup back in 2004. I like this Calgary roster a lot, look for them to make a run at second place in the division.

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5. Vancouver Canucks:

Forwards

Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Pavel Bure

Markus Naslund-Trevor Linden-Stanley Smyl

Ryan Kesler-Thomas Gradin-Tony Tanti

Patrik Sundstrom-Donald Lever-Alexander Mogilny

Defense

Mattias Ohlund-Jyrki Lumme

Dennis Kearns-Alex Edler

Kevin Bieksa-Sami Salo

Goalie

Roberto Luongo

If we are being 100% honest, I hate the Vancouver Canucks, and it is 100% because of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. I have no real reason to hate them because the Boston Bruins beat the Canucks in 7, but I hated every player on the Canucks and now I hold a grudge and I hope Canucks fans never experience happiness after I watched them burn down their city because of my big bad Bruins. Go B’s! Anyways, this team is okay. The first line as a pair of Sedin sisters and Pavel Bure. Bure is an all-time great and I have zero beef with him, but the Sedins cannot play in big games, so do not expect the Canucks to go very far in an all-time greatest season. The forwards have huge gaps in some lines, and I don’t see how Ryan Kesler could ever be on the third line of an all-time greatest team. Nonetheless the defense is solid. Mattias Ohlund is the number one obviously and he has a great goalie behind him. I hated Luongo back in 2011, but forever thank him for “pumping” Timmy T’s tires and fueling the fire even more to beat the bums that are the Vancouver Canucks.

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6. San Jose Sharks:

Forwards

Patrick Marleu-Joe Thornton-Owen Nolan

Jeff Friesen-Joe Pavelski-Jonathan Cheechoo

Marco Sturm-Logan Couture-Vincent Damphousse

Ryane Clowe-Mike Ricci-Devin Setoguchi

Defense

Dan Boyle-Brent Burns

Marc Edouard Vlasic-Brad Stuart

Sandis Ozolinsh-Mike Rathje

Goalie

Evgeni Nabokov

I am a big supporter of the San Jose Sharks, but this team just lacks the firepower it needs to compete with the best teams in an all-time season. Their roster is pretty loaded, but majority of these guys still play, and granted the Sharks are coming off their best season in franchise history, this roster won’t cut it in an all-time season. The defense falls flat for me. I don’t think Dan Boyle is the number one guy a team wants in an all-time roster, but that’s what the Sharks got. I love the top line, and I am a sucker for Owen Nolan, he was an idol of some sorts to me as a kid seeing we had similar last names, but they cannot compete with the Oilers, Kings, or Ducks. Evgeni Nabokov is a brilliant net minder, but not the goalie you want in an all-time season unfortunately. Go Sharks but maybe in another 30 years this roster will be beefier.

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7. Arizona Coyotes:

Forwards

Keith Tkachuk-Dave Hawerchuk-Shane Doan

Ladislav Nagy-Thomas Steen-Teemu Selanne

Douglas Smail-Jeremy Roenick-Paul Maclean

Laurie Boschman-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata

Defense

Teppo Numminen-Keith Yandle

Fredrik Olausson-Randy Carlyle

Phil Housley-Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Goalie

Ilya Bryzgalov

The Arizona Coyotes, Pookies favourite NHL team for some crazy reason, but not a terrible all-time roster honestly. I thought they were going to look a lot worse on paper, but not that bad if you ask me. The first line is solid. These boys aren’t going to blow anyone away with their skill and speed, but they play solid two way hockey and can keep you in most games on most nights. Shane Doan is Mr. Coyote in essence, he has played his whole career in the desert, and he has never made it past the Conference Finals, and even making it there in 2012 was an absolute shocker. Teemu Selanne never played a game in a Coyotes uniform, but before the franchise relocated to Phoenix, Selanne was a Finnish Phenom in Winnipeg for the original version of the Jets. The third line even has quite a bit of talent on it with Jeremy Roenick down the middle, who doesn’t love JR honestly? He’s like a hockey legend of some sorts, maybe. Defense is mediocre to me. Teppo Numminen was a stud in his own rights for the Jets back in the good ole days, but Keith Yandle is no all-time defenseman. Yandle is one of the best defenders to ever play for the Arizona franchise though so it was a no brainer to have him on the top unit. The third d-line is interesting to me. Phil Housley is a hall of famer, not for Arizona, but he was again on of the best defenders to put on the desert dog logo. Then Oliver Ekman-Larsson is becoming a super star in the NHL as we speak, look for him to win a Norris Trophy in the next 3 years.

Well now we know the seedings for each conference, but who plays who and who wins the ultimate prize of Lord Stanley’s Cup. Let’s remind you folks of the Eastern Conference playoff picture:

1.Montreal Canadiens vs. WC2. New York Rangers

2.Boston Bruins vs. 3.Detroit Red Wings

In the Metropolitan Division we have:

1.Pittsburgh Penguins vs. WC1. Toronto Maple Leafs

2.New Jersey Devils vs. 3. Philadelphia Flyers

I see a very easy 5 game series for the Canadiens over the Rangers, and a very good 7 game series won by Boston over Detroit, giving us a much anticipated Boston vs Montreal showdown. Unfortunately, Montreal takes out the Bruins is 6. Pittsburgh will wipe the floor with Toronto with a clean sweep, and the New Jersey Devils win a great 6 or 7 game series. Pittsburgh will have a little more trouble with New Jersey, but they should take care of them in 6. In the Eastern Conference Finals we have Montreal and Pittsburgh and we all knew it was coming, but Montreal wins that series in about 5 or 6 games putting them into the Cup Final. Who will they play? Let’s go out west:

1.Chicago Blackhawks vs. WC2. St. Louis Blues

2.Colorado Avalanche vs. 3.Dallas Stars

1.Edmonton Oilers vs. WC1. Calgary Flames

2.Anaheim Ducks vs. 3. Los Angeles Kings

Chicago will undoubtedly clean sweep St. Louis in the first round and their second round opponent will be the Colorado Avalanche as they will take Dallas the distance and win in 7. But, round two belongs to Colorado over Chicago, also in 7 games. The Pacific bracket has Edmonton sweeping Alberta rival Calgary and then sweeping the LA Kings in the second round as well. The Conference Final won’t be a sweep, maybe 6 games max, but Edmonton is going to the Cup to face Montreal. Stanley Cup… flip a coin, both the Habs and Oilers are incredible but I am giving the edge to Edmonton in 7 games. What an incredible series that would be if you really think about it. That concludes our greatest NHL all-time roster series, who would you have your franchises greatest all-time team?