Three members of the Sabres organization have a legitimate chance at bringing home trophies at the end of the season. Lindy Ruff could be a Jack Adams finalist, Tyler Myers could win the Calder Trophy and, of course, Ryan Miller. What separates Miller from the other two, however, is that he could walk away with two of the most prestigious awards in hockey.
Puck Daddy released their first real Hart Trophy Watch List today and, no surprise, Miller is on it. We’ve talked a lot about Miller’s tremendously tremendous season, going all the way back to a preseason game.
Those of us who have watched the Sabres this season know what Miller means to them. He’s been their best player and has bailed them out of many, many games. How many games have the Sabres scored only two goals, gave up over 30 shots and won? Without Miller, there’s no way the Sabres have the division virtually locked up. At best they’re fighting for eighth place in the conference, much like the last two seasons. Miller has elevated his game this year and it’s something we’ve almost taken for granted. We expect him to play well every time he takes the ice and it’s been noticeable when he has stumbled ever so slightly. Those slip ups have been few and far between, which is why he’s regarded as among the league’s best.
Only four goaltenders have won both the Hart and Vezina trophies in the same season. We watched Dominik Hasek do it twice in 1996-97 and 1997-98. What I think helps Miller’s case is that the same people who vote for the Hart do not vote for the Vezina (the MVP award is voted on by the writers while general managers select the top goaltender). While some sportswriters may still think to vote for Alexander Ovechkin or Henrik Sedin because “goaltenders already have their award,” they can’t control who gets the Vezina. Miller may get Hart votes because writers don’t want to see him, oddly enough, get shut out.
Miller has had a fantastic season and Sabres fans have been fortunate to see him play almost every night. I said in previous playoff runs that the Sabres only got so far because of Miller’s play (this was more true in the 2007 playoffs than in 2006). He’s a special player and hopefully he’s rewarded for it in June.
With 10 games remaining in the regular season, Buffalo seems to be finally hitting its stride. While not a deal breaking game, they can clinch a playoff spot with a victory tonight. We know about the troubles with Ottawa, so if Ryan Miller really is the league’s most valuable player, he’s going to have to show it at 7:30 p.m.