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Ryan Miller deserves MVP recognition

Image (1) Miller-thumb-250x166-7341.jpg for post 346

Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck has a great post this afternoon on who the front runners for the NHL MVP award are, based on statistical analysis of which players in NHL have positively impacted their team the most. He uses 5-on-5 impact, power play impact, penalty kill impact and penalty +/- for a ‘total impact’ that each player had on goals for and against throughout the season. Says Dirk:

Remember - these measures reflect the influence of a given player on the performance of his team. They are not meant to be used a direct comparison of players on different teams to say “who is better”. It is, rather, “who is more valuable to his team”. Yes, this analysis does leave goaltenders out of the equation, but we can argue over the Vezina another day.

The winner according to his formula is easily Alex Ovechkin. Sidney Crosby didn’t even finish in the top 15, just in case you were wondering. But I’m left wondering: “Where would Ryan Miller fit in?”

Dirk does acknowledge that this analysis leaves out goaltenders, but I don’t think that goalies should automatically be relegated to the Vezina. That’s the trophy for the best goaltender in the NHL. The forwards have their own: the Selke, the Art Ross, the Maurice Richard. The defensemen have the Norris. So winning one of the others doesn’t mean that excuses them from being out of contention from the Hart. Just because a goaltender wins the Vezina doesn’t mean he’s not worthy of the MVP.

There’s a precedent for goaltenders winning the Hart. Jose Theodore won in 2002 and Dominik Hasak won in 1997 and 1998. It’s rare -- by my count just six goaltenders have won since 1923. So is Ryan Miller deserving this season?

Miller is just 7th in the NHL in total wins for a goaltender, five behind Martin Brodeur. It’s important to note that Marty has started seven more games, however. Beyond that stat, Ryan Miller is near dominant in every other category. He and Tuukka Rask are neck and neck in goals-against average and save percentage, yet Miller has start 25 more games.

There’s also the fact that there is absolutely no way the Sabres would be in the position they are now (3rd in the East) without Ryan Miller in net. That’s a tough notion to quantify with stats aside from the normal goaltender numbers, and certain tough to use the same system that Dirk uses above since goaltenders can’t help their team score.

Yet you can’t deny that Miller’s numbers are amazing; especially in this NHL that does all it can to help the offense. It’s not Buffalo’s defense is carrying him either; the Sabres rank 24th in the NHL in shots allowed per game (compared to the New Jersey Devils, who are 2nd).

Should Ryan Miller be considered? I’m sure he will be. Should he be a serious contender for the Hart? There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s just as important to the Sabres as the Ovechkin is the Capitals.

Can the Capitals win without Ovechkin? It would be tough, but they’d still be a very, very good team. Can the Sabres win without Ryan Miller?

Not a chance.

You vote: Who should win the Hart Trophy?