Vulgar Statistics: Rested Miller Vs. Fatigued Miller
A lot is made about Miller and his level of fatigue, at least in past years where he racked up starts at a maddening pace while Patrick Lalime remained firmly rooted to the bench. I’ve seen a few graphical representations of Miller’s performance over time, but no direct comparison of his stats during those long stretches of play to his stats right after he’s had a rest.
When I originally began compiling data for this, the idea was to compare Miller’s performance (from the past three seasons) in the three games directly before a rest to his performance in the three games directly after a rest. Thus the “Fatigued” column in the following chart is a compilation of data from the games that satisfy the former and the “Rested” column is from games that satisfy the latter. However, I thought it might be interesting to note Miller’s performance under “extreme” fatigue. So there is a third column detailing his stats in games in which he’s coming in with ten or more consecutive games played.
Well that sucks. I think a lot of people suspected that Miller coming off a rest is as good as it gets as far as goaltending is concerned in the NHL, and there are the numbers to support that claim. The second column can be a bit misleading since it can be assumed that the games before a rest are going to be sub-par anyways since that’s what’s leading to Lindy Ruff sitting his number one goaltender. The last one is ugly as sin though. It has not been pretty. In those 82 post-rest games, Miller has given up four or more goals only eight times. In the 25 super-fatigued games he did it eleven times.
With a lot of these, I’m usually trying to get the data into excel as quickly and as accurately as I can without really knowing how it’s going to turn out. There’s always the fear that there will be absolutely nothing interesting or substantial to look at. With so many games to go through, I thought that would be the case here. Man was I wrong. I don’t know that there’s an ideal balance between what Miller and another goalie gets for playing time. The scheduling and nature of opponent make any rigid system just about impossible. If Enroth can continue to prove he is NHL capable though, what we will probably see is about a 3-1, 4-1 split which would give Miller 60-65 games in a season, and Enroth the rest. If that happens, the result should not only be a backup who can notch double digit wins in a season, but also an absolutely dialed in Ryan Miller.