Ryan Miller excited to work through rust with Oil

 

Sidelined since February, Miller gets start in finale while Lack rests

 
 
 
 
Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, left, gets some attention from Derek Dorsett before their game on Thursday. Miller, who will start his first game since Feb. 22 when Vancouver hosts the Oilers, figures to be a spectator when the playoffs begin as Lack most certainly will start in Game 1.
 
 

Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, left, gets some attention from Derek Dorsett before their game on Thursday. Miller, who will start his first game since Feb. 22 when Vancouver hosts the Oilers, figures to be a spectator when the playoffs begin as Lack most certainly will start in Game 1.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

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Ryan Miller is back, and so is the Vancouver Canucks’ power play.

Both could come in handy for the National Hockey League playoffs.

Miller will start his first game since Feb. 22 when the Canucks close out their regular season tonight against the Edmonton Oilers.

It’s a game that may or may not mean something for the Canucks, who will face the Calgary Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

If the Flames beat the Winnipeg Jets this afternoon (noon start, Vancouver time), then the Canucks must earn at least one point against the Oilers to secure home-ice advantage. If the Flames fail to get two points then the Canucks need nothing from the Edmonton game.

In that scenario, coach Willie Desjardins would undoubtedly rest some regulars and dress the likes of defenceman Ryan Stanton and winger Brandon McMillan.

But no matter what happens between the Jets and Flames, Miller will start in goal while Eddie Lack gets a rest.

“You have to have two goalies going into the playoffs,” Desjardins said after the Canucks blitzed the Arizona Coyotes 5-0 on Thursday. “You have to have two guys. It would be tough for Ryan to end up playing in a playoff game if he hadn’t played in for however long it’s been.

“Eddie has played great. He doesn’t have anything else he needs to prove right now, he has played very well. But we need both goalies ready to play.”

Miller, who has been practising with the team for the past week, backed up Lack on Thursday. He suffered a sprained right knee when he collided with teammate Jannik Hansen during that Feb. 22 game against the New York Islanders.

“I’m excited for the possibility,” Miller said of playing tonight. “I was pushing to try to get back for one of the last games.”

Miller figures to be a spectator when the playoffs begin as Lack most certainly will start in Game 1.

Meanwhile, the Canucks’ power play, which had been missing for almost as long as Miller, has been on a tear of late.

Vancouver scored three power play goals on Thursday, albeit against a Coyotes team that is dreadful. The Canucks’ power play has gone 11 of 30 (36.7 per cent) in the last 11 games. In the 11 games before that it managed just two goals in 27 opportunities (7.4 per cent).

As of Friday, it had climbed to eighth overall (19.6 per cent) in the NHL. Vancouver’s penalty-kill is second in the NHL (85.7 per cent) and that’s a nice one-two punch to be taking into the post-season.

Defenceman Yannick Weber is one of the big reasons for Vancouver’s improved power play. Weber scored twice on the power play Thursday and five of his 11 goals have come with the man advantage.

In recent games, the Canucks have made a concerted effort to feed Weber for his shot from the right point.

“Once I got on there a couple of weeks ago, it certainly gave us another option.” Weber said. “If teams pressure the (Sedin) twins a lot down low, it kind of opens up that seam. Everybody respects the twins and once they start cycling it gets that winger to sag down a bit and that will eventually open up the lane to me.

“If a team takes me away, maybe the cross to Edler is open or down-low play for the twins is open. I think there’s just more for the PK to respect.”

Weber has become one of the feel-good stories for the Canucks this season.

He has spent much of his NHL career battling for a spot in the lineup. That’s how this season was going as well, but when the team lost the likes of Edler, Chris Tanev and Kevin Bieksa to injury, Weber got not only a chance to play, but an opportunity to play big minutes.

He has run with it and has looked right at home the past couple of months playing beside Dan Hamhuis.

“We had a lot of injuries and I had the opportunity with Dan to play big minutes against top lines of top teams and that gave me a lot of confidence,” Weber said.

“I wanted to show everybody I am solid defensively, it doesn’t matter who I am playing against, and the coach definitely saw that. Right now, we have three D pairings that can play against anybody.”

Desjardins has definitely liked what he has seen from Weber.

“It’s funny, because even before that (the injuries), he had lots of good numbers and we were still sitting him out,” Desjardins said.

“It was like maybe he didn’t deserve to sit out. Then we got the injuries and he got in and got another chance at it. He has played really well for us. He has made a difference. When we had the injuries he was playing as a 1-2 and played well.”

bziemer@vancouversun.comTwitter.com/bradziemer

 
 
 
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Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, left, gets some attention from Derek Dorsett before their game on Thursday. Miller, who will start his first game since Feb. 22 when Vancouver hosts the Oilers, figures to be a spectator when the playoffs begin as Lack most certainly will start in Game 1.
 

Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, left, gets some attention from Derek Dorsett before their game on Thursday. Miller, who will start his first game since Feb. 22 when Vancouver hosts the Oilers, figures to be a spectator when the playoffs begin as Lack most certainly will start in Game 1.

Photograph by: Mark van Manen, PNG

 
Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, left, gets some attention from Derek Dorsett before their game on Thursday. Miller, who will start his first game since Feb. 22 when Vancouver hosts the Oilers, figures to be a spectator when the playoffs begin as Lack most certainly will start in Game 1.
Ryan Miller #30 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on from the bench during their NHL game against the Minnesota Wild at Rogers Arena February 16, 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
 
 
 
 
 
 
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