Monday, April 4, 2011

Grading the Terriers: Goaltending

By Scott McLaughlin/DFP Staff

Today we wrap up our year-end grades by analyzing the goalies. We were divided on both Kieran Millan and Grant Rollheiser, so they get split grades.

Kieran Millan: B+/A-
Millan had a great season for the most part and was the unquestionable MVP of the Terriers. He ranked fourth among Hockey East goalies in both save percentage (.919) and goals-against average (2.68). In league games only, he jumps to second in save percentage with a .932 mark. Millan was also tested more than any other Hockey East netminder. Despite the fact that four goalies played more minutes than Millan, he had to make the most saves.

Millan frequently kept BU in games and even stole a few wins and ties, especially early in the season when the Terriers climbed to a No. 1 national ranking despite not actually playing all that well. Millan improved every aspect of his game from last season, when he ended up with an .891 save percentage and 3.15 GAA.

The reason Millan only gets a B+/A- instead of an A, though, is because he had a few too many off games. The losses to Brown on Jan. 1 (6 goals on 24 shots) and Harvard on Feb. 14 (5 goals on 29 shots) stand out as particularly rotten performances. Not only did he give up a lot of goals in those games, but he gave up a lot of bad goals -- shots you just don't expect to see him (or any other college goalie) let in. The tie against Brown in November, the two losses to BC in December and a couple of the season-ending losses to Northeastern also stick out as subpar efforts.

One of the biggest problems with Millan continues to be that when games get off to a bad start, it's tough for him to regroup and get it together. It's not unusual to see him respond to a soft goal by hanging his head or displaying poor body language, and it's not unusual to see him look shaky afterwards and sometimes even allow another weak goal. Millan also still struggled with rebound control and high shots at times, although he definitely improved over last year in those areas.

Ultimately, though, Millan had a very good season even with those bad games taken into account. He deserved his spot on the Hockey East Second Team and he'll be the preseason favorite to make the First Team next season if he returns for his senior year -- something that is still up in the air as of now.

Grant Rollheiser: C-/C
Rollheiser was very good in his first three games of the season, going 3-0-0 with a .931 save percentage and 2.33 GAA. Then he replaced Millan after one period in the Dec. 3 game against BC and gave up six goals on 24 shots. He started the game at RPI the next weekend and got pulled after giving up three goals on 13 shots. Rollheiser didn't appear in another game the rest of the season, which certainly says something given the fact that Millan did have a couple bad games in the second semester.

Rollheiser's playing time has gone down in each of the last two seasons and what was once a 1-1A goaltending situation is now clearly separated into a 1 and a 2, with Rollheiser being nothing more than a backup. He might have to be more than that next year, though, if Millan signs with the Avalanche.

Adam Kraus: Incomplete
Kraus played just five minutes this season and faced only two shots, so grading him is pretty much impossible. It's worth noting, though, that by all accounts, the senior was a great teammate who never complained about his lack of playing time.

13 comments:

  1. I'm curious how you guys can justify giving this grade to a goalie that won one game in 10 starts vs teams that made the ncaa tournament. (I'm not suggesting that he's any better, but Rollie actually had 2 wins vs tournament teams)

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  2. Because one player doesn't make a team. BU lost those games because the team either didn't play well or it played well but just wasn't good enough. Either way, I don't think there was a single game this year where you could say Millan was the biggest reason BU lost. He played very well in some of those games against tourney teams, even if he didn't get a win. Look at the number of shots he faced in some of those games: 36 against MC, 37 against MC, 49 against UNH, 42 against ND, 41 against MC, 39 against UNH, 40 against BC.

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  3. I'd expect an "unquestionable MVP" to do a little more in those 10 games. UVM, UML, Prov and UMass were 4 of the worst teams in the country. Other than playing well in most of those games, he really didn't do much else. You guys do nice work, but you're way off on your analysis on him.

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  4. I think Parker is the first one to say that shots on goal aren't always an indicator of how an offense played. In the same way, the number of saves aren't always an indicator of how a goalie played. The quality and timing of Millan's saves are what I'd question. Just because he racks up big save numbers (against teams like UMass, Lowell, PC, and UVM like Anonymous mentioned) doesn't mean he played well. Those were often not grade A scoring opportunities, but rather teams who liked to just shoot from anywhere. Those teams weren't really able to expose Millan's lack of athleticism either. When good teams such as BC get Millan moving, that's when he gets into trouble. Teams who can't move the puck quickly make him look great. He had a lot of what you guys call great games against bad teams.

    I agree with Anonymous that you guys usually do a great job and provide a real service to us BU fans all season, but you've really got to take a closer look at how you analyze Millan. He just isn't what you guys want him to be.

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  5. Obviously there were games Millan faced a lot of shots from the outside. I don't see where I said that wasn't the case. But there were also more than a few games when he faced a lot of grade-A's and kept BU in games. All those games I listed in my above comment are examples. Merrimack, UNH and Notre Dame are not UMass, UML, PC and UVM. Neither is Maine, another team he had a couple great games against.

    I was at all but one game this season, so I feel pretty confident in my ability to grade Millan. Jake, Sam and Arielle know their stuff, too, and all four of us gave him either a B+ or A-. Obviously everyone's free to have their own opinion and one of the best parts of doing something like this is that we get to hear those opinions, but I don't think any of us four need to look at anything more closely. We saw it with our own eyes and heard not just Parker and BU players talk about Millan, but also opposing coaches and players.

    Without exaggerating, there were no fewer than 15 times this season when I heard an opposing coach or player say something along the lines of Millan being "great," "outstanding" or "phenomenal." There's a reason he finished second for the Three Stars Award, was named to the Second Team and was one of three finalists for the Player of the Year Award. And that reason likely has something to do with everyone else in Hockey East seeing what we saw this year.

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  6. As Scott mentioned, I cannot count how many times we sat through press conferences this season where opposing coaches would say "Millan was absolutely incredible tonight" or "Millan is just an unbelievable goaltender." That was win or lose.

    Obviously everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but I think that some fans this year, instead of seeing why or how teams scored on Millan, simply decided Millan was doing a bad job. There's a lot more to a goal than the play of the goaltender, and Millan was left out to dry countless times this season.

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  7. Scott and Arielle are right. There are usually five other players out on the ice with Millan at all times (not so much this season with all the fu*king penalties), but in any case, there are five players that the puck has to get through before it even gets to him. Sure, it's a goalie's job to stop pucks, but the other players either need to assist with that or get out of his da*n way. Not all the defensemen were playing as well as they could have/should have been this year, so you can't throw the blame on Kieran.

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  8. I can't believe people would question giving Millan an A-/B+ grade. There's no doubt he has some weaknesses, including defending high shots, but overall he did an excellent job and was clearly the team's MVP. I sincerely hope that he comes back for his senior year because the 2011-12 Terriers -- with Millan in net -- have the potential to make their mark. One thing I would like to agree on with the other posters is the great job that Scott, Arielle, Jake, and Sam do in covering the Terriers. As a former college and professional newspaper sports writer / editor, I am impressed with their dedication, insight, and professionalism. College hockey gets precious little coverage in the local media but the BHB and DFP more than make up for that. While I think many of the players would be well advised to stay four years, I am certainly glad this fine group is using all their eligibility!

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  9. Thanks for the kind words, Jeff. Much appreciated.

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  10. Can Millan be overrated anymore?

    LOL!

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  11. Millan definitely had a few off games this season, but his strong performances greatly outnumbered the weak. They need him to come back next year or it could be a pretty rough season with Rollie, a freshman and a walk-on between the pipes.

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  12. Arielle's FAn CLub PresApril 10, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Great points about Millan's body language and early goals. He was a bit up and down around that in the early - mid-season and then straightened out towards the end with a few lapses. He'll needs consistent sports psychology coaching next year to maintain an even keel.

    Also, anyone who doubts Millan was not by far the MVP ought to ask his teammates. I think their response will be a three letter word; DUH!

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  13. Losing Millian would be no big loss.

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