One game does not make a season and one sensational debut isn’t going to change the Ducks’ goaltending hierarchy that’s firmly in place. But Ryan Miller’s sterling performance in the nets Sunday night in a 4-3 shootout win over Carolina only buttressed the club’s belief in what they were getting when they signed him to be the new backup to John Gibson. Miller’s 34-save effort to spell Gibson might have gone above and beyond but they’re expecting a lot. Miller isn’t with the Ducks just to provide support for Gibson. He is there to challenge him. “My message to him was just don’t accept that you’re going to be here as the backup,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “We want you competing for the net. We want you to compete.” Carlyle has long liked the idea of a “1A” and “1B” in net and his preference is to see that type of scenario play out. Jonathan Bernier provided a great deal of support in his one season with the Ducks but they wanted someone better. A proven – and, at one time, even elite – No. 1 that still had lots of game. The Ducks had to wait until Miller recovered from a wrist injury but they saw the wait was worth it, at least for the first outing. What often separates teams from the pack of salary cap-produced parity is the ability to gain an additional two points on the second half of games on consecutive nights. That’s often when the backup goalie plays and Miller played a large part in the Ducks’ getting two on top of Saturday’s win at Tampa Bay. Miller got better as the game went on and then was spectacular in overtime, making multiple do-or-die stops among his nine saves. Three more stops were made in the shootout, where Miller has long starred at since this post-overtime inception started in 2005-06. His 58 victories are most among all NHL goalies. And while he came to Anaheim with the willingness to take on a support role, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist was eager to get his stay with the Ducks going. “You’re not going to be able to pick your spots, especially in the NHL,” Miller said. “They gave me this game and I really wanted to get it. It didn’t look so good with about five minutes left but Silvy (Jakob Silfverberg) made a great play getting to the net with traffic going there too.
Ryan Miller steps up in first game as Ducks goaltender
Orange County Register | Oct 30