The Anaheim Ducks didn’t have very many heroes this season, but the ones they did have were seldom recognized as so.
In the aftermath of the Anaheim Ducks 2018-19 season, now that the smoke has cleared, we can finally step back and truly honor the unsung heroes. With another phenomenal season and no signs of slowing down at 38-years-old, Ryan Miller deserves the honor of being the first player to win the Pucks of a Feather Unsung Hero Award.
Unsung Hero Award— Honorable Mentions
Kevin Boyle (7% of the vote): There was a point this season when both John Gibson and Ryan Miller were out due to injury. The Anaheim Ducks had picked up Chad Johnson off of waivers, but it had quickly become evident that he was unreliable at best.
Kevin Boyle stepped in, making his NHL debut for the first time at the age of 26. During his first NHL start, he would shut out the Vancouver Canucks, ending the Ducks third losing streak. Although he would lose the other 4 games he appeared in, he strengthened the case for himself to possibly take on a backup role should Ryan Miller not be up for the job.
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Devin Shore (14% of the vote): With the exit of fan favorite, Andrew Cogliano, Devin Shore entered the scene. From what we had seen from his time in Dallas, he was basically a cheaper version of Cogs who could finish on the breakaway.
In 34 games with the Ducks, Shore registered 12 points. He proved that he could be an entity on their struggling special teams. He also added a little bit of a defensive flare a la Andrew Cogliano. While it was sad to see Cogliano go, the addition of Shore brought something back to Anaheim that they had been missing from Cogs the entire season.
Troy Terry (18% of the vote): Troy Terry had a rough start to the season, but when he was given a second chance with a call up in January, he did not disappoint. His 13 points in 32 games may not seem overwhelming, but he gave Ducks Nation a taste of what the future will be like for the franchise.
He brought speed, skill, and confidence the roster has lacked over the past few seasons, and with a new coach next year, he, along with the other rookies, are going to be a force to be reckoned with.
Unsung Hero Award — Ryan Miller (61% of the vote)
The Anaheim Ducks have one of the best goaltending tandems in all of the NHL. John Gibson has been an absolute beast, but in all honesty, he could not be the player he is today without learning from one of the best, Ryan Miller. At 38-years-old, Miller has not shown one sign of slowing down. At that age, isn’t often that a goaltender can play at the same level Miller did this season.
Miller appeared in 20 games this season, posting a win-loss record of 9-9-2 and a save percentage of .912%. Defending the Anaheim Ducks crease this season was not an easy task. Chad Johnson couldn’t stand up under the pressure, Kevin Boyle struggled to carry the team, and even John Gibson showed signs of cracking under the pressure.
While Miller may not have won every game he started in this season, he proved that he was still reliable. In the absence of Gibson, he stood tall and faced the difficulties before him with poise. It was refreshing to know that both of our goaltenders have what it takes to carry the sinking Ducks on their backs should the need arise.
There were even a few nights when, after being brutally taken advantage of by his team and the opposition, John Gibson couldn’t handle the heat anymore. Miller relieved him and did not waiver. He was one of the players solely responsible for the Comeback in the Capital when the Anaheim Ducks came back from a 5-1 deficit to win the game 5-6.
Ryan Miller also had a milestone season, winning enough career games to take over the title of the winningest American goaltender in NHL history. His contract is up with the end of the 2018-19 season, and it would not be a surprise if the Anaheim Ducks offer him a one-year contract extension.
Ryan Miller will more than likely retire as a Duck, and it will be an honor for him to do so. He still has a few good seasons left in him and the fact that Ducks Nation is in capable hands when John Gibson cannot perform his goaltending duties can allow us to breathe a little easier.