The merry go round at center continues for the New York Rangers, this time it’s J.T. Miller getting the call.
AV confirms Desharnais will come out of the #NYR lineup tonight. Carey goes in and Miller moves to center.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) November 19, 2017
J.T. Miller is being moved back to center, a position where he came into the league playing but was moved because of defense.
Coming into the season it was expected that Miller was going to spend the majority of his time at center. This plan changed during training camp after the Rangers were impressed with rookie Fillip Chytil, who made the team. But Chytil only lasted a couple of games and was demoted to Hartford, leaving a hole at center.
David Desharnais has been the Rangers third-line this season, but he has struggled lately. Vigneault hasn’t been happy with his play and thinks that now is the time send a message. Scratching Desharnais means that Miller slides into the middle because the Rangers simply don’t have the depth at center.
Miller has been in a small funk lately. He’s recorded just one point in his last five games and is a minus-four over that span. Earlier this season, Miller stepped up his game, providing a spark that the Rangers were lacking over their first 10 games. Over the last three games, Miller has become invisible, which is a warning sign. He’s the type of player that can do a little bit of everything but it hasn’t seemed like he’s been doing that.
Moving Miller to the center position is a risky move considering his defensive responsibility. He won’t be facing off against other teams top centers but will be extremely important in his defensive zone.
There is upside in moving Miller at center, though. It’ll allow him to use his creativity and put his playmaking skills to use. Miller will be skating between Michael Grabner and Mats Zuccarello, a line that has the potential to put up some damage. Grabner’s speed and defensive awareness should help Miller, while Zuccarello’s playmaking ability should also generate some quality chances.
The Rangers continue to look for an answer in the middle, this time they’re calling on J.T. Miller, will he answer the bell?