This was an action-packed week in hockey. Two notable players decided to retire, which was sad. However, we did see a milestone from a veteran and a first goal by a rookie. As usual, I’ll highlight one of my favorite plays from last week, provided by one of our usual suspects.
1. Ryan Miller Announces Retirement
View this post on Instagram
Ryan Miller announced last week that this season would be his last. The 18-year veteran has backed up stud goaltender John Gibson for the last four years in Anaheim. He spent the bulk of his career with the Buffalo Sabres as well as stints with the Blues and Canucks.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) April 29, 2021
Miller will go down as one of the best American goaltenders of all time and has an outside shot at the Hall of Fame. With a few games left in his career, here is a snapshot of his career stats: a 391-289-87 record, a .914 sv%, a 2.63 GAA, and 44 shutouts. Miller was also good in the playoffs, posting a 28-27-0 record, a .913 sv%, a 2.52 GAA, and 3 shutouts.
The list of Miller’s accomplishments is no joke either. Miller was a one-time First Team All-Star, was selected to one All-Star Game, and won the 2010 Vezina Trophy. Miller ranks fairly high in many of the NHL’s statistical categories. He is 14th all-time in wins, tied for 36th in shutouts, and tied for 28th in sv%.
He’ll of course be remembered for his stellar play in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics where he led the Americans to a silver medal. Had Sidney Crosby not slid an overtime goal past Miller and the Americans had won gold, Miller would no doubt be even more of an American hockey legend than he is already. He finished that tournament with a 5-1 record, .946 sv%, and one shutout. He was named the tournament’s best goalie, selected to the Olympic All-Star Team, and was named the tournament’s MVP.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) April 29, 2021
Miller’s best seasons were of course with the Buffalo Sabres, where he spent the first 11.5 years of his career. He won’t be remembered as the best Sabres goalie of all time, because that honor belongs to Dominik Hasek, but he’s easily the second-best. Miller ranks first all-time in the following categories for a Sabres goaltender: wins, losses, saves, and minutes.
✅ Hobey Baker winner
✅ Vezina Trophy winner
✅ Olympics MVP
✅ Winningest 🇺🇸 goalie in NHL history
— MSU_Hockey (@MSU_Hockey) April 29, 2021
Don’t forget he was a stud in college, too. Miller, a native of East Lansing, MI, played three stellar seasons for his hometown Michigan State Spartans. Without a doubt it is the best school in the United States, but I could be biased. He is one of two players in MSU’s history to win the Hobey Baker award, the other being his cousin, Kip.
Miller was always one of my favorite players and was a joy to watch over the years. I hope he gets the credit he deserves for being one of the best goalies in the NHL during his tenure.
2. Joe Thornton Notches Assist Number 1,100
View this post on Instagram
Even at the ripe, old age of 41, Joe Thornton continues to reach milestones. Last week, Thornton tallied his 1,100th career assist against the Montreal Canadiens. He is the seventh player in league history to reach that milestone. This was the goal that did it.
Jumbo has enjoyed a stellar 23-year career. All that’s missing is his name on Lord Stanley’s Cup. With the Leafs in the driver’s seat in the Scotia North Division, they have just as good of a shot as any other team to win the cup.
It’s been 28 years since a Canadien team has won the Stanley Cup, when the Canadiens did it in 1993. I’ll be rooting for the Maple Leafs with the hope that Jumbo can solidify his place among the games’ greats.
3. Cole Caufield Makes his Debut
Cole Caufield just refuses to stay out of the headlines. Just recently he left Wisconsin and signed an ELC with the Canadiens, tearing up the AHL immediately. He was quickly called up to Montreal and played in his first game on Monday against the Calgary Flames.
View this post on Instagram
Unlike his AHL debut, Caufield did not score in his first game. He didn’t keep us waiting long, scoring his first career goal in overtime against the Ottawa Senators in game number four.
This is a great play from Caufield to sprint ahead of Tim Stützle to get his stick on the puck to deflect it into the back of the net. The pass from Jeff Petry, another Spartan alum, was nice, too.
Caufield is part of the wave of high-potential American prospects. I’m excited to see him tear it up in the NHL this year and hopefully into the playoffs.
4. Andrew Shaw Hangs Up His Skates
Truly one of a kind.
Thank you for your relentlessness, your laughs, your grit, your chirps, your energy, and your joy for the game.
Thank you Andrew Shaw! pic.twitter.com/yx6r6BWJKO
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) April 26, 2021
Chicago Blackhawks’ forward, Andrew Shaw, announced his retirement from hockey last week citing head injuries. It’s always a shame to see a player hang it up so young — he is 29 — especially due to something as scary as a head injury.
Shaw made his name as a solid contributor and pest during the Blackhawks’ second and third Stanley Cup runs. He wasn’t the most skilled player, but he did post three 30+ point seasons. He spent the first five years of his career in Chicago before spending his next three in Montreal. He returned to Chicago last season and began this season with the ‘Hawks before announcing his retirement.
Shaw played 10 NHL seasons, playing in 544 games, scoring 116 goals, and adding 131 assists. Let’s not forget about the 573 PIMS. Shaw also scored five goals in each of the Blackhawks’ runs to the Stanley Cup during the 2013 and 2015 postseasons.
He wasn’t a player you liked unless he played for your team. I wouldn’t buy him a beer if I saw him out in Chicago, but I’m sure pretty much every Blackhawks fan in the bar would. Shaw played on the edge like that. People in Chicago love him. I do hope his long-term health doesn’t suffer and he finds solace in retirement.
5. McDavid Wows With Another Super Goal
This is my favorite goal of the year so far. McDavid just does things no one else can do.
First, his speed is second to none. Most players can’t get this kind of separation, but McDavid can. What’s different about this goal is that McDavid still doesn’t have enough space to attack the goalie, so he has to shoot from just inside the circle. This is a tough angle to shoot, but McDavid has no issue faking the slapshot then going five-hole.
This is something I try during practice sessions playing EA Sports NHL on my PS4 when I’m 1 v 1 with the goalie. I don’t think I’ve ever pulled it off in-game, and McDavid is doing this in actual NHL games. The kid is absolutely insane. ■