By Mike Harrington
Topic No. 1 around the Blackhawks early this afternoon was Patrick Kane and the trip back to Buffalo. But an interesting sidebar topic was the trade of Ryan Miller to St. Louis and what that means for the Hawks going forward.
Chicago enters tonight's game four points behind St. Louis in the Central Division and the Blues have a game in hand. The Blackhawks have an NHL-high 14 overtime losses, going 5-8 in the shootout and 0-6 in overtime-deciding goals, so they've blown a lot of points that way.
And now St. Louis adds Miller, who is 4-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .933 save percentage with the Blues. And he's only faced 90 shots in the four games -- or less than 23 a game.
"He's certainly a top goalie in the game. He's always tough to beat, seems to play well against us," said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville. "St. Louis helped themselves in the net and he's played well since he's been there. It's something that makes our division even tougher and stronger and that race to be in first place is going to be challenging for us. Our ambition is to be try to be first but when you've got a goalie like him, it's going to make you a better team."
"He's been a big part of their team for a long time," Patrick Kane of Miller and the Sabres. "I watched him when I was growing up and they had their long runs deep into the playoffs. He's a great goaltender and a great person for this city and organization. I got to know him at the Olympics and it's going to be tougher facing him in our division and in our conference."
The Blues can take over first place overall in the NHL with a win tonight over Minnesota but Miller won't face old mates Jason Pominville, Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick. He's getting the night off and Brian Elliott is starting in his place.