JT Miller’s scratch seems more like a challenge than a punishment

JT Miller r (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

JT Miller (Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)

There isn’t much by the way of information as to really why JT Miller was scratched last night. Sure, I agree with the fact that Lee Stempniak and John Moore needed to play and not be idle for too long. And while Hunwick has been very good, the drop off with J. Moore isn’t that steep.

However, JT Miller has been playing extremely well on both sides of the puck. Alain Vigneault’s implication as reported in the NY Post, that he could have been better versus the Caps, just doesn’t add up. Larry Brooks further expanded on the notion that AV simply doesn’t trust JT.

According to Pat Leonard of the NYDN, JT Miller was tense at his locker, with a team public relations representative hovering close by, after skating as the Rangers’ extra forward. He braced for the inevitable question about his status, at which point he responded tersely.

“Whatever is best for the team,” the third-year forward said. “I just hope we win.”

So why would AV scratch one of his better players as of late? Maybe he felt this was a very winnable game against NJ and he could use it to:

A. Get Stempniak some game action

B. Use it to see if he can get JT’s game to an even higher level

The knock on JT has been his immaturity. This dates back to last season and coupled with lapses on defensive coverages got him sent down numerous times. However, since his last call up JT has seemed to put it all together.

In 10 games he has 4 goals and 5 points while averaging about 13 minutes a night of action. He and his line mates Carl Hagelin and Kevin Hayes have produced at both ends of the ice with improved possession numbers.

Now the Rangers head to Dallas, and if JT Miller is scratched again I’ll completely buy in to the notion that AV doesn’t trust him. If JT plays, then you can bet AV was looking to get Miller to elevate his game one more notch.

That isn’t a sign of distrust, it’s a sign of belief that Miller has more to offer.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore