St. Louis Blues’ Ryan Miller Deserves Blame For Game 6 Collapse

St. Louis Blues Ryan Miller Choke Job Buffalo Sabres

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The St. Louis Blues acquired goalie Ryan Miller at the deadline from the Buffalo Sabres for one reason: to make a run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

St. Louis was already regarded as one of the best teams in the NHL — they had the best defense, incredible scoring and generally solid leadership on the team. Miller (along with Steve Ott) was traded for Chris Stewart, Jaroslav Halak, William Carrier, a first-round pick in 2015, a third-round pick in 2016 and a conditional first-round pick this year (if Miller re-signs with St. Louis).

At this point, you must wonder aloud if Buffalo fleeced the Blues on this deal.

Lately, I have been a Blues apologist. I have pointed to Brent Seabrook‘s dirty hit as the turning point in the series, and if David Backes was fully healthy, this series is completely different — if you disagree, you’re not living in reality. Seabrook’s hit certainly was a turning point, but the larger point was the power play goal scored by Jonathan Toews just 44 seconds into the 3rd period.

From that point on, it was all over for the Blues. The Miller unravelling officially began at that point. Miller was certainly screened by his defense, but that is no excuse for letting that goal in.

The next goal, though, was essentially the nail in the coffin of St. Louis’ playoff run. Miller let in the softest goal this side of Michael Leighton less than 90 seconds later, at 2:01 in the 3rd period. Patrick Sharp fought through a boneheaded hook by Vladimir Sobotka to put a puck past Miller, who was on his backside tanning via the United Center’s lights.

The remaining 18 minutes of the game were a simple formality. The Chicago Blackhawks had all of the momentum and a goalie in Corey Crawford whose confidence wasn’t completely shattered.

Miller has felt this kind of pressure before; he carried Team USA to the Olympic Gold Medal game in Vancouver back in 2010. He has also melted under this kind of pressure before, specifically in another must-win playoff game … this one while he was in Buffalo against the Philadelphia FlyersMiller, nearly three years to the day, had a very similar performance in Game 7 of the first round. He was so bad in that game that he was actually pulled early in the third period when Buffalo went down 4-0. He hasn’t been the same goaltender since.

Miller is clearly a decent player, but he deserves full blame for St. Louis’ Game 6 loss, just as Crawford deserves full credit for  Chicago’s Game 6 win. The Blues have a lot of tough decisions to make in this offseason, specifically if they plan on bringing back Miller after this meltdown of a game.

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