Ryan Miller has played well since his first game in net for the Vancouver Canucks. Now that he’s found his comfort zone, he’s been sensational.
Miller looks to extend his scoreless streak Sunday as Vancouver continues its seven-game road trip against the Detroit Red Wings, who have had no trouble finding the back of the net lately.
Neither New Jersey nor Columbus managed to score in Vancouver’s last two games. Miller stopped 20 shots in a 2-0 home win over the Devils on Tuesday before turning aside 31 in a 5-0 rout at Columbus on Friday – his first back-to-back shutouts since Feb. 29-March 1, 2012.
“I feel like I’m building the right kind of game to play with this team,” Miller told the Canucks’ official website. “The guys are doing a nice job. I’m starting to get a feel for what certain D-men like to do and where they present themselves on the ice for certain plays.”
The rest of the Canucks (16-6-1) did not share in Miller’s humility.
“Millsy has been crazy good,” center Shawn Matthias said. “He’s such a pro, works so hard. I had texts from friends just about him last night.”
Miller, who preceded his two shutouts with 24 saves on 25 shots in a win over Chicago, struggled earlier this month, allowing 16 goals in four starts from Nov. 8-19.
After watching his team go 2-2-0 in those games, Canucks coach Willie Desjardins has no problem giving Miller the bulk of the credit for the three straight victories.
“He’s made some tough saves look easy,” Desjardins said. “We could be down two and we’re always in it because of Miller’s play.”
Miller’s scoreless streak currently sits at 152 minutes, 5 seconds.
The Canucks have made the most of their goalie’s strong play, producing 3.04 goals per game to rank near the top of the league. Henrik and Daniel Sedin lead the team with 22 and 21 points, respectively, and Nick Bonino has four points in the last two games.
Detroit (13-5-5) also finds itself in the midst of a hot spell, winning five of six and scoring at least four goals in each victory. The Red Wings rallied from three goals down to beat New Jersey 5-4 in a shootout Friday.
They have especially excelled on the man advantage, netting five power-play goals in the last three games. Detroit is converting at an NHL-best 31.9 percent (15 for 47) clip since Nov. 5.
“We’re a pretty good hockey club when we play with pace,” coach Mike Babcock said. “When we don’t play with pace, we’re not. The thing I don’t like about what’s gone on lately is that we give up too many goals.
“We’ve got to get back to giving up no goals. I don’t mind if we score goals, but I’m not interested in giving them up.”
Petr Mrazek, filling in for Jimmy Howard, allowed four goals on 25 shots against New Jersey. Howard expects to get the nod against Vancouver.
He’s 4-0-1 in his last five starts against the Canucks and has a 1.07 goals-against average in his last four.
Miller, on the other hand, has struggled mightily against the Red Wings, notching a 2-9-2 record in 13 career starts. His 3.37 GAA against Detroit is his worst mark against any team with at least 10 starts.
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