Thank goodness the Blues managed to score a few goals Sunday night and come from behind to win that game in Phoenix. There isn’t a soul in this town who wanted to generate conversation about a team that gets shut out three games in a row and two games back to back after they make a huge trade that is supposed to catapult them into Stanley Cup contention. It’s bad for business. The Blues salvaged their road trip with a 4-2 come from behind win last night and set up tomorrow night’s homecoming for the team post Sochi Olympics against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is also the city of St. Louis’ first chance to see new goaltender Ryan Miller and center Steve Ott in action.
The last time the Blues graced Scottrade Center was February 8th, where the home team outlasted the Winnipeg Jets in a shootout. Chris Stewart and Jaro Halak skated for that team and times sure have changed nearly a month later. While Stewart and Halak make plans to be traded from Buffalo, the Blues get to show their fanbase Miller, a player who was brought here to turn them into championship contenders.
Miller played Sunday and made 25 saves in route to his first victory between the pipes for the Note. Ott logged 14 minutes on the ice and registered a few hits and a blocked shot. After allowing the Coyotes a couple early goals, Miller slammed the door shut and made some key saves to allow the Blues a chance to climb back into the game and steal it.
Miller didn’t get the chance to truly show off his dominating skills yet made a nice first showing in net and collected a win. I am sure he stood down there wondering why are men in front of him actually playing defense and scoring goals. In Buffalo, he was the star of the show most nights because his team couldn’t generate much excitement and his defense basically let the other team set up shop. In this town, fans expect you to make an instant impact with the team and not waste their time. We haven’t celebrated a cup in this town and are rather anxious. So when the team trades 4 players away to essentially acquire your services, the pressure sits on you with every save. Miller has a chance to show the fans what he can do tomorrow night.
I believe General Manager Doug Armstrong made the right move in acquiring Miller. He can be a game changing goaltender who can pick up a team when their defense falters and make those key saves other stoppers simply can not. He will give up a few goals but will save you many more. You won’t see a more durable goalie in this league and there won’t be a lot of soft goals allowed in Miller’s net. He won’t hang his head after a bad game. This guy is seasoned, tough and ready to win. Once he left Buffalo, Miller had to sense he was getting his best shot to win a Cup himself so he isn’t going to waste this opportunity.
In giving up Stewart, Halak and potentially two high draft picks, Armstrong made a play for right now instead of stocking his future. There isn’t a sharper GM in this league who can plant his feet and make a bold move. Armstrong doesn’t have crazy money to deal with here. He has a cap that doesn’t raise too high and in order to make big moves he has to take big risks. I like that. Whether this works out or not, I like this bold move. The Blues currently stand at 40-16-6 atop the Central Division, but they need a goalie who can carry them deep into the playoffs. That has been missing the past two seasons. Armstrong brought in Miller because he can stand toe to toe with The Kings’ star goaltender Jonathan Quick on any given night.
Tomorrow night, Miller gets to show Blues fans what he is made of. Just remember something folks. There are quite a few more games to go in this season so don’t judge the man on one performance alone.
Ryan Miller was brought in for the long haul.