How about being 19 years old and getting Madison Square Garden to stand on its feet not once, but twice?! That is what rookie center JT Miller was able to do last night at MSG. Miller, who was called up to the Rangers on Monday, made his debut Tuesday night against the New Jersey Devils and was one of the lone bright spots in an otherwise awful game. Coming into his home debut last night against the rival New York Islanders, coach John Tortorella liked what he saw in Jersey, and moved Miller up to the third line to center fellow rookie Chris Kreider and captain Ryan Callahan, who just returned from a shoulder injury.
The move paid off right away. Chris Kreider was able to tap a pass into the offensive zone that Miller came racing in for. Miller skated down the left hand side, lost the puck for a second, kicked it back to himself and he then roofed a sick shot over Islanders goalie Evgeni Nabokov about two minutes into the game. That gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead, something the Rangers haven’t had a lot of this season. Commentator Sam Rosen noted that it was the Rangers third game out of ten in which they scored first.
Miller wasn’t done though. Late in the second period, with the Rangers clinging to a 2-1 lead, Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh fired a long pass from the defensive blue line through center ice. Miller was able to pick up the puck at the Islanders blue line, skating past everyone and going in on Nabokov one on one. Miller fired a nice wrist shot, and what looked like a save at first turned into a goal when the puck bounced into the net after Nabokov’s initial save. The Rangers had a 3-1 lead, and went on to win the game 4-1, getting a much needed two points over the Fishsticks. Miller was awarded the games first star for his play, not bad kid!
After the game, teammates praised Miller. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist noted Miller made good decisions with the puck and seemed much more poised and mature for a 19 year old kid playing in his second pro hockey game. Coach John Tortorella noted that the organization has done a great job getting young prospects who could come up to the big leagues and make a difference. He noted that both JT Miller and Chris Kreider have added a spark to the club still trying to find its way consistency wise.
Miller, who was the Rangers first round pick in 2011, seemed like a savvy veteran with his play on Thursday night. Lets hope he can keep it up, make some great plays and put a few more pucks into the net. Miller is playing like he never wants to play in the AHL again, and look for Miller to make some big contributions during the remainder of the season.