Rangers Roundup: Cold Miller, Prospect Updates, and Captain Controversy?
The Blueshirts will be heading to Arizona and Colorado to end 2016. Antti Raanta has already been named the starter with Henrik Lundqvist out with the flu. There should be no lineup changes from last game as well.
Now for the latest on the Rangers
J.T. Miller has cooled off quite significantly over the last few weeks. After scoring 18 points in his first 22 games, Miller has scored only 3 points in his last 15. His lack of production and increased high risk plays that often lead to turnovers had Alain Vigneault reducing his ice time to send a message.
For the year, Miller was averaging over 16 minutes per game and it was reduced to just over 15 minutes for the last 2 games. It culminated with a 4th line demotion against Ottawa in the 3rd period. It was well deserved.
The NY Post reported, “We’re working quite a bit with J.T. to improve some of his decisions with the puck. He’s got a tremendous amount of confidence in his ability and in himself, but sometimes the play on the ice demands the high-percentage play.” AV concluded that he was forcing plays and “It got to the point where we had to cut his ice time a little bit.”
The AV detractors are once again questioning the coach’s tactics and unfair treatment of younger players. They immediately cite AV’s continuous use of Dan Girardi as their basis for this claim. I once again need to remind you that sitting veterans does not teach them lessons, and is usually used for rest. On the other hand (right or wrong), benching or lessening a young player’s ice time can be a tried and true teaching method.
J.T. Miller is only 23, and will be just fine after this.
Older fans will remember that when Messier left for Vancouver via free agency in 1997, there were 3 obvious choices to replace him as Captain. Wayne Gretzky, Brian Leetch, and Adam Graves were undoubtedly the biggest stars on Broadway, but who was best to lead.
Gretzky took himself out of the running early when he made it clear he just wanted to be one of the guys and not have the burden of leadership. That left it down to Leetch and Graves…both were great on ice leaders but only one was a vocal one.
The Rangers wanted to go with Leetch and his quiet non-confrontational style became an unmitigated disaster of Broadway. New York would go on a 7 season playoff drought and Leetch would be traded to Toronto during that final season.
Fast forward to 2016 and the Rangers once again have a quiet non-confrontational American-born defenseman as their Captain. Those of us who were spoiled watching Mark Messier lead the Blueshirts struggle with Ryan McDonagh‘s approach. It does reminds us all too much of Brian Leetch’s run as captain.
Enter in Derek Stepan, who finally had enough of watching his team play heartless hockey and decided to lace into them on the bench. Now mind you, Stepan did score twice but McDonagh added three assists. Yet, everyone pointed to what Stepan did on the bench as having the most significant impact.
Did the Rangers choose the right man for Captain? Vote in the poll below: