J.T. Miller has been thrust into a top-six role for the New York Rangers due to injuries to Rick Nash and Ryan Callahan. With Nash still suffering from an upper-body injury (read: concussion-like symptoms) and Callahan on the shelf for up to a month with a broken thumb, an old hockey adage comes into play for Miller.
You’ll always hear coaches shifting the focus when they talk about injuries to their top players. It is never an “oh shucks” moment. Instead, they’ll always chat it up about how big of an opportunity the hole in the lineup is for players further down the depth chart. While it’s usually just hogwash, in the case of Miller, this could be a big opportunity to stand in New York.
He appeared in 26 games in 2013, yet didn’t do much damage on the score sheet. Miller produced two goals and two assists while playing a meager 13 minutes a night. According to the New York Daily News though, the Ohio native will likely receive a lot more playing time in the coming weeks. The Daily News summarized New York’s line shuffling nicely (bolding for our emphasis):
Pyatt moved from third-line left wing to first-line left wing. Richards slid from the left to the ring. Miller vaulted from the fourth line to the second, while Pouliot slid down to the third line. Powe joins the lineup as a call-up from the AHL, primarily to help as a penalty-killer, while Dorsett and Fast have switched spots in an effort to create more balance in the bottom six.
That puts Miller on a line with the slowly improving Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello, and he could find himself as Stepan’s trigger-man with Nash out of the lineup. With four goals in three AHL contests, Miller is certainly warmed up heading into Saturday’s showdown with the New Jersey Devils.