Just like Chris Kreider last season, J.T. Miller has been the youngster that the New York Rangers have dangled from a string this season. Back and forth, back and forth — Miller goes from the NHL back down to the AHL and now is back in the NHL, but for how long?
Unfortunately for Miller, it probably won’t be that long, since the only reason why he is back in the NHL with the Rangers is due to the hand injury of the team’s leader in points, Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello suffered a small non-displaced fracture on his left hand while playing for Team Norway in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, but is only supposed to miss 3-4 weeks starting from the date of when the injury took place.
This means Zuccarello will probably only miss 3-5 games, and his return will most likely lead to Miller’s demotion back to the AHL.
However, just like all of the trade rumors surrounding other Rangers players, you cannot focus on things you can’t control. You can only focus on your game and doing everything you can to help your team win, and that is what Miller did for the Rangers last night in their 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Right from the start of the game, you could tell Miller was playing with a chip on his shoulder, and rightfully so. He wants to do everything he can to help the Rangers win and stay in the NHL, which he especially showed in the events leading up to the Rangers’ first goal in the first period, putting the Rangers out in front of the Blackhawks 1-0 at that time.
What happened on that play was that Miller did not give up on it, even when the Blackhawks controlled the puck in their own zone. Determined to force a turnover in the offensive zone, Miller backchecked the Blackhawks’ puck handler beautifully, forcing a turnover where Benoit Pouliot retrieved the puck. Pouliot then centered it to Derrick Brassard, who got it on net and was able to get his own rebound and put it home.
Miller ended up getting an assist on the play and finished the game with a point, and he helped the Rangers get the win and two points in the standings. While Miller might soon be sent back down to the AHL, Miller has to continue to play to the best of his abilities and make a strong case for the Rangers’ coaching staff in keeping him at the NHL level in the near future.