What happens when 1A and 1B become 1 and 2?
The St. Louis Blues’ goaltending landscape has changed dramatically in the last two weeks. In came Ryan Miller, out went Jaroslav Halak and adding Miller to be the unquestioned starter drastically changes Brian Elliott’s role.
The turnover in the crease means Blues goaltending coach Corey Hirsch has to alter his approach and handle each netminder differently. No longer is this a Halak/Elliott model in which each guy pushes the other for playing time. I was curious as to how the Blues will manage Miller and Elliott as a tandem, so I asked Hirsch. Given how insightful Hirsch was, I’ll present our talk as a Q&A.
The Hockey News: The Blues gave up a lot (Halak, Chris Stewart, William Carrier, 2015 first-rounder, conditional pick) for Miller and Steve Ott. How does Miller make the Blues better?
Corey Hirsch: He’s got obviously more experience. He’s been to the conference final twice, he’s been a Vezina trophy winner. I also think Ryan brings a little more size. He’s 6-foot-3. Even though he’s a lanky guy, that height really helps. He’s proven he’s very durable over the course of time and that’s what we’re looking for. And he brings a confidence to your team, that we have a guy who takes the goaltending out of the equation. We have a guy who can do it if we play well for him.
THN: The recent Blues teams are famous for allowing so few shots. How did you mentally prepare Ryan to see a lot less rubber?
Hirsch: Over the course of his career, I know in Buffalo he got a lot of shots. But he played for the U.S. national team and there were nights when he didn’t get the work. You still have to be ready. We still give up quality chances – we just don’t give up a lot of them. We block a lot of shots, but we just don’t give up those easy ones from the outside. So, typically when a team gets a shot on us, it’s a pretty good chance. He has the capabilities to handle it. That’s all the mental side of the game.
THN: What are your early impressions of Miller technique-wise? Has he impressed you? Surprised you?
Hirsch: He’s actually quieted his game down a little bit, meaning he’s not as aggressive as he was in the past, which is good. He thinks the game differently. I sat down and did video with him. I’ve done video with lots of goalies and it was interesting how his mind works because you’d think he’s going to think the way I do, but when we sat down for video he actually opened my eyes up to a couple of things I had never thought about. It was pretty neat just to sit and listen to him and how he thinks the game. He’s a very intelligent goalie.