JT Miller And New Line Getting It Done For Rangers!

JT Miller Has Been a God Send since being recalled

JT Miller has played well along side Hagelin & Hayes (Getty)

Saturday night’s game in Raleigh, North Carolina featured a new line put together by head coach Alain Vigneault. With Lee Stempniak back home in New York being tested for the Mumps Virus, Alain Vigneault had to rearrange his lines. He replaced Stempniak on the third line right-wing with youngster J.T. Miller.

Lee Stempniak is a great forechecker and a solid two-way player but many fans feel it’s time for the Rangers to start using the young prospects as much as possible. The trio of Carl HagelinKevin HayesJ.T. Miller was effective against the Hurricanes in the weekend home and home.

Lee Stempniak has been kept quarantined for fear he may be the latest Ranger to contract the Mumps. So coach changed things up and he may have struck gold with his new trio. Centered by rookie Kevin Hayes with Carl Hagelin on the left and J.T. Miller on the right-wing. Miller has said that of the two wing positions, he prefers the off-wing because he’s a lefty shooter. Since being recalled, J.T. Miller has been an important player for the New York Rangers with a line of 4-1-5 in eleven games this season. He was first playing wing on the bottom line with Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast but has played his way up through the lineup.

[su_box]A Look At The Underlying Stats To Understand Why These Three Young Players Could Be a Weapon For The Rangers As games are Played together![/su_box]

Looking at the possession stats for JT Miller, Carl Hagelin, and Kevin Hayes tells us that his is a line AV should consider keeping together. JT Miller is a 52.8% on ice Corsi and more importantly a 5.2% Corsi Relitive. The Possession monster Carl Hagelin is a 50.4% on ice Corsi for and a 1.4% Corsi Relitive and lastly big Kevin Hayes is a respectible 50.9% on ice Corsi for and a 1.8% Relitive.

JT Miller will benefit from playing with Hagelin

Carl Hagelin (Photo by Anthony Causi)

For those of you unfamiliar with Corsi or relative Corsi, the latter is how a team does when that player isn’t on the ice. Meaning the team gets 1.4% more of the shot attempts when Carl Hagelin is on the ice. Corsi% is only the percentage of shot attempts by the Rangers when that player is on the ice as well. Miller’s 52.8% is very good and it means that if there were one hunded shots between both teams while JT Miller was on the ice, 52.8% of them were for the Rangers.

The other thing to look at is zone starts. Alain Vigneault is a big believer in playing his top skilled players in the offensive zone to give them more scoring chances. On the other side of that coin, the fourth line trio is burried with defensive zone starts so it can be expected Jesper Fast and Dominic Moore‘s Corsi percentage will not be as high as top six scoring lines like Rick Nash or Derick Brassard.

Miller starts about 60% of his shifts in the attacking zone as well as Kevin Hayes who starts 63.2% of his shifts in the offensive zone. These are called sheltered minutes to put the young players in position to succeed. The two-way player, Carl Hagelin starts only 47.5% of his shifts in the attacking zone because he’s so responsible in his own end. So between the three you’d like to see them drive possession. However, they’re all young and are just playing together for first time the last two games. In time they could rival the third line from last seasons Cup final team with enviable depth from all four lines.

Kevin Hayes (Getty)

Kevin Hayes (Getty)

These stats can be expected to rise as chemistry is built between the three. As of this post the Rangers are twenty-third in the NHL in total team Corsi percentage of 46%. That’s a far cry from where they were last season, dominating opponents at the point of attack in the top five in the league. As third line players their competition isn’t as tough as it could be. If they come around, they complete the Rangers as a team. The last six games have been a little more like the Rangers we expected them to be.

[su_box]It is Unclear as to where Lee Stempniak will fit in the lineup once cleared to play by team doctors with JT Miller playing so well.[/su_box]

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The Resurgence of JT Miller

J.T. Miller was used on the first line for a time at the center position and was a solid performer for the Rangers. Playing with Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello may have aided that somewhat but JT Miller is coming into his own. Before that injury to Chris Kreider he played on the second line wing with Martin St. Louis and Derek Stepan for a time before Derick Brassard went down with the Mumps outbreak. As a winger J.T. Miller was nothing short of awesome beginning at Madison Square Garden against Pittsburgh and right through the West Coast road trip.

JT Miller, NYR (NHL)

JT Miller, NYR (NHL)

JT Miller was bounced around the lineup after being recalled from Hartford

Upon being called up, J.T. Miller began playing on the fourth line where he looked like his game turned a corner. He has had trouble with Alain Vigneault’s man to man defensive zone coverage at the center position. As a winger it seems Miller is able to relax and play hockey. He brings a level of physical play to the Rangers game that they don’t have on a consistent basis. He’s scored some important goals for the Rangers of late as well. Pairing him with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin could prove to be a huge boom for the New York Rangers. They need to jumpstart that third line so the opposition has to think about how they want to deploy their top defensive pair. That’s when the Rangers top players will get some mismatches against easier competition.

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JT Miller Has Matured Since He Broke Into The League.

It looks like J.T. Miller has matured enough and improved enough to remain in the Rangers lineup. If he can continue to skate and play physically the way he has the last five or six games, it would be very tough for the coaching staff to send him down to Hartford. With the development of third line center Kevin Hayes still in progress, the Rangers need players around him that can alter the game on a daily basis.

Miller has certainly grown up since playing as a fourth line wing after being recalled. His game and mental approach have matured and the way he’s played with his third line mates in Carolina is promising. It seems J.T. Miller has his best opportunity since he first played an NHL game to find a permanent spot in the New York Rangers lineup.

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All possession Statistics provided by Waronice.com; you may view these stats yourself here Player Comparison — war-on-ice.com.

I began watching the Rangers in 1990 when I was 9 years old. Soon after a lifelong friend of... More about Bob-O