K’Andre Miller’s impact integral to Rangers success
The Penguins were skating off the ice Friday night and were going after Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller. The game, which ended in a 5-1 loss for Pittsburgh, was frustrating for the visitors – going into the second intermission it was a 4-0 surge in favor of Rangers – but Miller frustrated them too .
The 22-year-old defenseman, in his second season in the NHL, doesn’t have the stardom of Adam Fox or the brand name of Jacob Trouba, but he’s an integral part of the Rangers top four. Here are some of his numbers from the win over the Penguins: 22:38 time on the ice, one hit, one block, plus-2. Pittsburgh had just six 5-on-5 chances to score while Miller was on the ice.
And yes, a solid 6:04 of those minutes came against Sidney Crosby, per Natural Stat Trick, a match in which Miller didn’t back down and ended up winning.
“He seems to be getting better with every game,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said after practice on Saturday.
Prior to Sunday’s Rangers game against the Sabres, Miller and Trouba played a hair’s breadth of more than 1,020 minutes together, the most of any NHL duo, according to MoneyPuck, with a practical 55.8% field goal percentage. to share.
“Trouba has been really good to him and he’s a young lad,” Gallant said. “He joins the rush, he makes good offensive plays and he plays solidly and he becomes more physical defensively. So we like its growth.
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Compared to last season, when Miller, a Wisconsin product, played 53 games for the Rangers, the boxscore numbers aren’t all that different. The impact is, however, and Miller has made progress taking care of himself away from the ice. He eats better, stretches more and feels the difference.
“Probably just confidence with the puck,” Miller said when asked about his biggest area for improvement. “I’ve been able to use my speed and my body a bit more lately in the second half, so I think that’s given me a little extra boost and the confidence to do it a bit more.”
Offensive production hasn’t been put in place yet — Miller’s 14 points in 65 games this season leaves obvious room for improvement.
“It’s coming,” Miller said. “That’s all I can really say at the moment, it’s coming. Obviously it’s frustrating at times not to score points, but I think it will come with a good game.”
Still, the growth of his game in other places, in such a short time, is a huge reason for encouragement. When asked Saturday to compare the pressure he felt to that of former first-choice Alexis Lafrenière, Miller posited it was much the same.
It’s not said that Miller, a former 22nd overall pick, fared better than the former No. 1 pick.
“Obviously being in college for those two years prepared me to make that leap and I think the guys we have around the locker room are a great support system,” Miller said. “We have great guys in this dressing room that you can talk to and break down the game with. So I think one of the most important things for me is to learn from older guys who have experience and incorporate that into my game.”