Ryan Miller won the 2010 Vezina Trophy going away, piling up 23 first place votes compared to Ilya Bryzgalovs 5 votes. It was the same story in the year end All-Star balloting done by the media, where 105 named Miller as their top choice while just 20 favored Bryzgalov. In contrast, the 2010 Hart Trophy balloting had Miller and Bryzgalov both pick up 13 first-place votes. Miller ended up finishing 4th to Bryzgalovs 5th in the final counting by accumulating more 2nd and 3rd place votes, but the MVP results were still much closer than the voting results for best goalie. Apparently a lot of observers felt that although Miller was the better goaltender in 2009-10, Bryzgalov was the one that was more valuable to his team.
Its not hard to argue that Millers individual performance level was higher than Bryzgalovs, either based on stats (35.6 GVT compared to 26.8 GVT) or the voting results given above. That suggests that there must be some team factor or other measure of value that was perceived to be in Bryzgalovs favour. The two most common value arguments are typically that a goalie took on a greater workload or that his team would have been worse off without him, but neither of those seem to work in this comparison. Both goalies played in 69 games with Miller facing more shots (137 more than Bryzgalov) and making more saves (143 more), and Phoenix went 8-5-1 with their backup goalie in net whereas Buffalo was just 4-9-2 with Miller on the bench.
Bryzgalovs MVP support seemed to be based pretty much entirely on the fact that the Coyotes overachieved. Phoenix didnt have any other big name players, yet they massively exceeded expectations by making the playoffs. That does not mean it was entirely Bryzgalovs doing, however. If he didnt play as well as Miller, and he didnt take on a greater workload than Miller, and the Coyotes did much better with their backup goalie in net than the Sabres did with theirs, then theres really not much left to make a value argument in favor of Bryzgalov.
The main difference between the two teams in the standings was actually shootouts. Phoenix was 14-6 in shootouts and 5-1 in OT, for an amazing 19-7 record in games that were tied after regulation time. Buffalo was 4-6 in shootouts and 6-4 in OT. That means that the Sabres actually had a slightly better regulation record (35-27-20, compared with Phoenixs 31-25-26).