Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Check yourself, Ryan Miller

So I've watched Lucic's hit on Miller a few times now and, while I may be angering the goalie gods to say it, I think Miller has as much responsibility here as Lucic. Maybe more. 

Looch has said he was barreling in, looked down at the puck, then looked up and Miller was just RIGHT THERE all of a sudden. His instinct was to put an arm up and protect himself. Watching the video, I sorta believe that.

But for Miller, he saw the whole thing unfold. He saw Lucic on a breakaway, saw him with his head down controlling the puck, saw they were going to collide, and did nothing about it.

Now, I know if I'm aggressively challenging a player who may not see me coming, my instinct is to get low and try to poke check the puck away from them. This generally just sends the other player flying while you, the goalie, are just a ball of well-protected hate there on the ice. Unless they kick you in the head or cut you with a skate blade, you're pretty safe.

But at the very least, you have to brace yourself for impact and Miller had plenty of time to do that, unlike Lucic who had the puck to worry about.

Instead, Miller just stood there like he was in some kind of protective bubble, and then got thrown like a rag doll when the freight train hit. Like Lucic, of all people, was going to say, "Oh, I'm sorry sir, I'm not the type to knock guys ass over tea kettle, so I'll just go around you."

Even if Looch had time to change course, that's not his game. But I don't think he did, so it's a mostly moot point. (And just to be clear, I'm not pro-Lucic here. I don't 100% believe he couldn't have let up and avoided or minimized the collision, but I think as Miller was the one who unequivocally saw this hit coming, he had a responsibility to react intelligently.)

Now, here's the part where I disclaim some bias: I've been pretty irritated with Crunchy lately and feel like he's been acting like a bit of a baby. He seems sorta sour and crankier than usual. Maybe marriage doesn't suit him.

The bottom line is that I think some of the onus is on the goalies to protect themselves. The scenario as I saw it seemed pretty logical and predictable, other than the part where Miller just stood there like a sacred cow and got slaughtered.

Anyway, I hope the goalie gods don't smite me tonight in my women's league game. Also, apologies for not writing here in a long while. My weekly posts at TheScore and SBNation pretty much drain all the writing I have time for right out of me.

If you haven't been keeping up with my Backhand Shelf stuff, here's an archive of all of them so far: http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/author/msconduct/ Thanks for reading!


M. Richter  November 15, 2011 at 6:40 AM  

First off, thank you for coherently presenting this POV, because it's roughly where I've been sitting on the whole situation, but I hadn't had a chance to sit down and hammer out the fine print. It's also nice to hear a goalie speak about this who *is* stepping a bit further back and looking at greater context. There's been a lot of flailing over Shanahan's word choice regarding the Lucic hearing, but the fact is that he may well have gone in with a similar approach to the one you've explained here and wanted to see if Lucic validated it or not before issuing a final ruling.

With regards to the posting (and the fact that other writing commitments are killing your ability to update this blog), I highly doubt anyone's going to hold it against you. I certainly won't - since I picked up sole responsibility for the minors coverage at Caps Outsider, I've been drowning in backlog on my personal blog (even if I'm well aware nobody reads it and it's just for posterity).

Speaking of, I hope both gigs are going well for you! I finally got Google Reader set up, so I'm hoping to be better about regularly keeping up with a broader collection of blogs for the rest of the season.

klemmer  November 15, 2011 at 8:12 AM  

Well said, Heather!

I am sorry that Miller got hurt, but he put himself in that position..

What surprised me was the statement that the Sabres made after their goalie got creamed.

What statement you ask?

My point exactly- the players did absolutely NOTHING.

James  November 15, 2011 at 11:06 AM  

I am a goalie and a Sabres fan and my take in obviously doubly biased.

But, the thing that concerns me is that Shanahan has set the precedent that goalies can get hit outside of the crease and all a player has to do to get away with nothing but a minor penalty is to say he didn't see the goalie.

Sorry, but I'm not buying it.

Lucic has been suspended twice before for illegal hits. How he wasn't treated as a repeat offender is beyond me.

If Patrick Kaleta does that to Tim Thomas, I would expect him to get a double digit suspension.

Also, if Lucic didn't see Miller, then why did he lift his hands? It's not like Miller was going to injure Lucic in that spot.

Lucic's comments to the media since this incident also reek of the sarcasm of a person that knows that they got away with one.

And despite what Shanahan says, this does mean that players won't fear running goalies.

For instance, Erik Cole cut deep through the crease and wiped out Enroth last night. And Enroth wasn't playing the puck. He was just standing in the middle of his crease.

Reimer got run and is out with an "upper body injury".

Miller got run and is out with a concussion.

If I'm Price and Thomas I'd look out.....

Ms. Conduct  November 15, 2011 at 11:15 AM  

All fair points, James. I get the sense that Looch felt like he was getting over, but I absolutely cannot shake the feeling that Miller had to know he was about to get creamed and should have prepared for it. And as I think I said, Lucic's arm went up as a reaction to looking up and there's a big ol goalie in his face.
Can't argue that he probably should have gotten a greater penalty for putting that extra umph into it, but I hadn't seen anyone calling Miller out for being rather dimwitted in thinking that he didn't need to position himself appropriately for the hit that was surely coming.
That's really my point here.

klemmer  November 15, 2011 at 11:21 AM  

I don't have an issue with goalies getting hit unless they are in the crease or in the act of making a save.

We should not get special protection just because of our position if we choose to act like a player.

After all, we're NOT NFL quarterbacks...

moose  November 15, 2011 at 12:57 PM  

I think you're spot on with your assessment. The one video i have running through my head about players not expecting goalies to seek contact is when tim thomas knocked a player (whose name escapes me) ass over end for just coming close to the crease. Guy wasnt looking to be hit, and timmy just crushed him. Lucic did extend his arms, kinda "finished the check" in my opinion, BUT he is conditioned to do that when he gets contact. Miller is bird leg thin, great reflexes, etc, so why not just rob Lucic with a save, no contact, play is over? OR miller takes a knee, lucic flips over the top of him, and miller is now the bad guy since he left his crease?

geo  November 19, 2011 at 2:38 PM  

I'm reminded of Marian Gaborik going for a short flight in Detroit a few years back. That's what should have happened here.

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