Ryan Miller is finally a member of the St. Louis Blues and I say “finally” because we all know rumors about the Blues interest in Miller have been floating around since before the start of last year’s lock-out shortened season. We can look back at his statistics over the course of the 12 seasons he spent as part of the Buffalo Sabres organization and see how good he’s been despite playing for a progressively worsening team that currently sits at the very bottom of the league. Now that he’s a member of the Blues, who rank second in the NHL with 84 points, we will be able to see why so many in St. Louis feel he’s such a huge upgrade at the position and possibly the missing piece to a championship season in St. Louis.
In addition to back-stopping Team USA to a silver medal in Vancouver in 2010, Miller has arguably been one of the best goaltenders in the league since leading the Sabres to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2007. He won the Vezina Trophy for Best Goalie of the Year in 2010, His 284 NHL wins are surpassed by only five other active goaltenders and his career Save% (.916) is fourth among all goalies who’ve played more than 500 games. It’s no surprise then that St. Louis has coveted the 33 year-old Michigan native, AND he was able to amass these numbers playing behind a sub par defense his entire career. Until now.
St. Louis ranks third this season in fewest Goals Allowed per game (2.32) and second in Shots Allowed per game (26.63.) Since 2010, the beginning of the Alex Pietrangelo era in St. Louis (when he played his first full season) the Blues have averaged just 26.3 shots allowed per game. In that same time-span, Buffalo averaged 32.5. Miller has maintained an almost .918 Save% over those four seasons including a .923% this season for the last-place Sabres. Even in Miller’s two best seasons in Buffalo, 2006-07 & 2009-10, St. Louis gave up far fewer shots AND goals per game.
With the “team-defense first” style of play encouraged and taught by Coach Hitchcock and the high quality of defense the Blues put on the ice night after night, Miller stands to benefit greatly and thus, the team shall benefit as well. I didn’t think this was a move the Blues necessarily had to make to be contenders, but looking at the deal from center ice, through the 4-deep lines of tenacious two-way forwards and one of if not the best top-4 defensemen in the NHL, I’m extremely excited we’ll be seeing Miller standing in front of the St. Louis net.
GO BLUES! LONG LIVE THE NOTE!