Rangers at Devils … It’s Go Time! … J.T. Miller wants to reach another level

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NEWARK — Last year was a big one for J.T. Miller, which means this coming year is even bigger.

It’s bigger because Miller wants it to be, because he has embraced the idea that he is a regular now, with an important role, on a team that needs him to be better.

For the first time in his career, Miller has a spot among the top-nine forwards all but sewn up, and that means he could play on any of the top three lines – to some degree it may not be possible to distinguish the Rangers’ first line from its third.

Miller, coming off a World Cup of Hockey in which he played just one of the three tournament games (and two of the exhibitions) for Team North America, made his preseason debut Saturday against the Devils. Because he had played just the one tournament game, and had not played in more than a week, Miller was anxious to get right into the preseason.

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault stuck him right in an enviable spot, too, in what has been rookie Pavel Buchnevich’s place on the right of Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad. That line has been fabulous in high-paced workouts and drills in training camp, and in its previous exhibition against the Islanders Tuesday (Zibanejad had a goal and two assists, Kreider a goal and an assist).

“You know, this is one of the first years I feel prepared and know what to expect and feel confident now,” said Miller, who had career bests in goals (21), assists (22), points (43), played all 82 games, and was third on the team in hits (174). That earned him a new two-year contract with a $2.75 million annual cap hit.

Miller is a guy with a motor, one seemingly built for the playoffs with his combination of speed, skill and willingness to be physically involved. What he needs – and he knows it better than anybody – is to develop consistency.

“I feel really ready to take my game to another level,” he said. “Now I know what it takes, especially away from the puck, to be elite. For a while I feel like I was just trying to prove myself offensively and when that happens you kind of get away from other parts of your game. So I’m glad I had a full season under my belt and I’m certainly looking forward to building off last year.”

He was asked if he has set goals for himself, and maturely answered:

“I don’t like to look at numbers too much, but there are goals,” he said. “A lot of it I just said, and my issues before have been away from the puck and just establishing consistency, so if I can just do that, stay consistent and build my game every day, I think it will be a good start.”

Vigneault called Miller one of the “Young Guns” – a nickname earned by the extremely talented 23-and-under Team North America – and said that Miller surely will feel he has something to prove

Vigneault has handed out some tough love to Miller, challenging him to make a commitment and to learn to do the right things with the puck and without it. Two seasons ago, Vigneault said Miller would have to decide if he will be an NHL player; otherwise, Vigneault said, he will be a very good AHL player.

Now he’s an NHL player, looking to be an even better one.

****************************************************************

Tonight’s probable lineup:
Kreider-Zibanejad-Miller
Vesey-McRae-JensenDevils
Grabner-Gerbe-Fast
Gropp-Lapierre-Brown
Skjei-Clendening
Bodie-Girardi
Gilmour-Paliotta
Raanta
Hellberg

THIS DAY IN RANGERS HISTORY

·         Sep. 30, 2011 – Playing against his former club team, the Frolunda Indians, in Sweden, Henrik Lundqvist led the Rangers to a 4-2 victory.

·         Oct. 1, 1999 – The Rangers tied the Oilers 1-1 on the night the Oilers retired Wayne Gretzky’s jersey.

Click here to go to @RangersReport on Twitter.

Photo by Getty Images.

 

 

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106 Comments

  1. ORR!! What Is It Good For!!?? on

    Devils fans started Halloween early. Wearing their empty seat costumes

  2. So far the worst roster combo team, worst game, chaotic with unbearable amount of different mistakes. Painful to watch

  3. ORR!! What Is It Good For!!?? on

    Really only one NHL line. Wish That Russian Kid Pavel was playing.

  4. Watched my first preseason period and learned the following: The Rangers PP and PK still suck. And I am wondering if they will get scored on this season when Dan Girardi is not on the ice.

  5. Lapierre is done
    McRae just got hit all the way back to AHL
    Devil’s commentators really want Gerbe to make the Rangers because they understand that he sucks and is too small.

    2 games in a row Girardi gets hit with a puck and looks like he is in a world of pain.

  6. I hope al this bunch, spear Kreider line and Aauntie., will collectively pack tonight for bus to Hartford. Just 2 hours of comfortable ride with chicken salad and energizing drinks served. Buy-buy…

  7. Girardi was never fast, but geez he’s a shell of himself. Sad.
    .
    I guess I’m a member of the Brady Bunch because i think Skjei should stay. Sending hIm down because he can’t be claimed to have a little more time to look at Clendening, McIlrath or whoever else, IMHO doesn’t make sense.
    .
    He brings speed, size and some offensive ability too. Had a bad first preseason game, but he’s finding his game. He needs the NHL experience and the Rangers need him. Start him on the 3rd pair left side if we don’t want to put too much pressure on him at the start.

  8. Can Girardi or Staal be sent down to AHL?

    Can Girardi or Staal be bought out this time of the year?

  9. Admiral Akbar on

    I think Staal is salvageable. Girardi is finished. Wonder if he can get a coaching role.

  10. Admiral Akbar on

    Sports, like life, is so strange:
    .
    You have Big Papi retiring despite having the incredible season he’s having. Yet you have Dan Girardi Not retiring despite his huge dropoff in play…

  11. Man, Lapierre sucks! I mean what’s his deal winning 67% of his draws while trying to earn a spot as a pk player and face off 4th line centre…sheesh

  12. Girardi to Big Papi: “How do you do it?”

    Papi: I’ll tell you and I’ll get you some, but it’s gonna cost you.”

  13. watching these so called athletes…if i lost 40 lbs, cut back to 1 pack of ciggs, cut back on the gin and learned to skate i would be at least as good…no doubt

  14. ORR!! What Is It Good For!!?? on

    Large Father is a Bahston legend. Done Girardi can use some of his goods to replenish. It is known!

  15. So right now Girardi is what-the 8th defenseman? Maybe? He should get comfy in the press box and really consider LTIR. The guy’s so used to playing in pain, but he can’t play if this is what he looks like after a long summer’s rest..
    .
    How does that work? Does Girardi have to agree to go on LTIR?

  16. Admiral Akbar on

    Send Little Jimmy to Hartford and let Brandon Pea Wee and Butch Nevitch make the team.

  17. Vesey not looking good this game, maybe has something to do with some nobody centering him. Where did this McRae schmuck come from and how did he manage getting top 2 line spot this game? What a waste of rookie development icetime.

  18. Yes, Pablo. You should root for them since you know, this team is so horrible (according to you)

  19. Not first time not long time on

    Hey yoooo!! What’s going on here? Getting beat by a bunch of kids from jersey? We really stunk!!

  20. Not first time not long time on

    I’m gonna trow my calzone out da winder! Deez guys stink! Day friggin stink!

  21. Admiral Akbar on

    This Aid France commercial is GARBAGE and has NO BUSINESS being aired during hockey broadcast.

  22. I think AV is wishing he played more veterans, the preseason presidents cup is slipping away.

  23. The PK still stinks, but it’s hard to know what you’re looking at when half the guys, (including Hellberg), will be gone. When they get scored on you’re relieved when an AHL guy screwed up. “Oh, it’s just Bodie. No biggie.” But they have to work as a unit and that needs to get fixed immediately.

  24. I’ve been praising Fast and I think he’ll make the team, but ouside of his goal, he has not looked good.

  25. Watched my first preseason action tonight and learned that the Rangers PP and PK still stink. The only lingering question is how many goals against Girardi will be on for this season.

  26. Not first time not long time on

    TYM: next time instead of watching you should be listening. They said the power play was doing great. Listen to the games for 20 games. Then if your good enough you get a license to watch. Right now consider yourself a barer of a Watchers Permit

  27. Kreider-Zika-Buchie
    Miller-Step-Zuc
    Vesey-Hayes-Nash
    Grabner-Pirri-Fast

    What happens when Lindberg is back?
    Not bothering with the defense. There’s what I’d like to see and what will be.

  28. Does placenta look like an AHLer? Have not been able to see any of the preseason games. Like his size. Would be great if he had the potential to be an NHLer in 2 to 3 years.

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