To quote the great philosopher Dr. Peter Venkman:
“It’s Miller Time!”
But instead of busting ghosts, the New York Rangers are busting their own demons and overcame them in the 4-2 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Much thanks goes to J.T. Miller, who had the tying goal and go-ahead assist. The young forward came through once again and is finally showing the hockey world why the Rangers burned a No. 1 draft pick on him.
“A big part of it is confidence and playing the right way,” said center Derek Stepan. “J.T. always had confidence but playing the right way in certain situations. When he first came into the league we didn’t see too many shifts the last five minutes of the game. Now he’s relied upon then. I think his whole confidence and game has sparked his offense.”
Miller has 16 goals and 13 assists on the season. He is getting the opportunity to play beside Derrek Brassard and Jesper Fast, which makes for a formidable combination in the top six.
“I see a young man that is definitely growing and understanding more every day what it is to be a pro, and going out there and working hard to become the best player he could be,” said coach Alain Vigneault. “He’s putting in a lot of time in his off-ice conditioning, works hard in practice, and he’s getting an opportunity right now and he’s definitely playing well for us.”
More importantly, there’s life in this Ranger team, which looked moribund the first period of the game.
There’s life on Broadway.
“We didn’t have a great start by any means,” said Ranger captain Ryan McDonagh. “It’s one that’s kind of frustrating, especially at home. We’ve had some pretty good starts, but we wanted to continue to get back to using our legs in the offensive zone. The first period we had spent a lot of time there but we didn’t get much out of it. We showed some things that we should do differently – put a little bit more pucks towards the net and fight to create some traffic. It was great for our guys to get rewarded there eventually.”
The Rangers need more of these wins if they are going to make any type of sound this spring. This team looked down and out and a month ago they would have just went through the motions.
But this is a different win with the Rangers fighting through for the two points. There at least a spark coming and hopefully that will pull through the rest of the month, since they are home a good amount in February.
They also have two important games coming up with in Philadelphia on Saturday and at home against the Devils on Monday. The Rangers need those wins to fend off the challengers.
Maybe they will find their second wind going down the stretch and maybe players like Miller will fill in for the disappointments like Rick Nash and Chris Kreider.
And maybe this team will go back to do the little things that brought them to the third round three of the last four seasons.
“Just continuing to battle hard, come up with more pucks on our stick, and utilize our speed and creativity because of it,” McDonagh said. “You can see our good defensive plays led to some offensive looks and some offensive zone time. I’ve got some guys that can really move the puck and move their legs in the offensive zone. We’ve got to get there first, so that’s our focus.”
And maybe there’s going to be some life in the Rangers come April and maybe the playoffs will be Miller time.