Is Ryan Miller the Best Bet for Team USA's Olympic Goalie?

Paul Bereswill

With little help in front of him, Miller's stats might not be on par with his '09-'10 Olympic year but are they still good enough to start for Team USA?

It's no secret Ryan Miller isn't getting much help in front of him this year. With only two wins on the year and 37 goals against 12 games into the season he's not exactly putting up his best numbers. However, when you look a bit deeper into the stats, and his main competition for the job, he might just be the best choice in the attempt to lead Team USA to a gold medal in Sochi.

Wins and goals against aren't always the best indicator to go by for a goalie since you might take, for example, 456 shots in 12 games to skew that goals against number. Even if you're playing lights out in net, it takes scoring on the offensive side of things to get those wins, and sadly, the Sabres as a team is bad in both these regards. Perhaps save percentage is a better number to get actual goalie performance and Ryan Miller is sitting at a respectable .919 on the year. It's a far cry from his 2009 numbers 12 games in which was .936 but that year he also only faced 342 shots, giving him some in-game rest.

Miller's main competition consists of Ottawa's Craig Anderson, LA's Jonathan Quick, New Jersey's Cory Schneider, Detroit's Jimmy Howard, and Tampa Bay's Ben Bishop. Among those, as expected Miller is last in goals against and wins. However, in the best indicator (save percentage) he is second on the list behind Bishop who currently has a .925. Bishop's even strength save percentage is significantly higher than Miller's, but the Sabres veteran has a higher power play and shorthanded save percentage, not to mention much more experience than the 26-year old Bishop.

Miller's other competition seems to be struggling as well. Anderson and Quick were the other two lead candidates at the start of the season. However, they're sitting at .912 and .901 save percentages respectably. Anderson has also been out since November 3rd with an injury and currently doesn't have a return date. Quick has just been horrible early on in the season with 34 goals against, the only one that comes close to Miller's numbers.

Add that save percentage to Miller's experience and veteran status and I believe he's at the top of the list when it comes to candidates. Without much help Miller is still putting up healthy save percentage numbers and doing his best to carry a struggling team. With the Olympics a few months off there's still time for these numbers to change but if Miller keeps his current pace, hopefully getting some more help from his team as they build some skills, he should put up a strong fight to be Team USA's starting goaltender.

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