K’Andre Miller’s Improved Play Providing Big Boost to Rangers’ Defensive Corps

Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When New York Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba went down with an injury in early March, the team’s fans were probably nervous.

They were probably worried that the team might lose some points in the standings and that their defensive play would suffer. Trouba, 30, is someone who blocks a lot of shots, plays a physical brand of hockey in his team’s zone, and does not make too many defensive errors, so losing someone like that has the potential to negatively impact a hockey club.

So far, at least, that has not been a problem. The Blueshirts have done a great job of lowering their collective goals against average with great goaltending from both Igor Shesterkin and Jonathan Quick and strong defensive play.

The fans also probably worried that another of their favorite team’s defensemen would also get injured. That has unfortunately happened as Rangers’ defensive stalwart Ryan Lindgren got hurt in his team’s 5-2 win over the New York Islanders on Sunday, March 17 at Madison Square Garden when he got tangled up with Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau and hurt his left leg.

While Lindgren’s injury is problematic, one defenseman on the team has quietly stepped up in Trouba’s absence and will most likely do the same without Lindgren. That defenseman is K’Andre Miller.

Miller, 24, had been an enigma for much of the season. He was prone to making glaring mistakes, not being careful with the puck, not playing with confidence, and even looking generally lost on the ice.

Do not look now, but it appears that Miller is turning a corner. A great example of this was in his team’s recent 5-2 win over the Islanders.

According to RangersMuse on Twitter, Miller did the following:

  • Two points (two assists)
  • Two hits
  • One block
  • 2 takeaways
  • 24:43 minutes of ice time

That is a full day’s work right there. He produced, played well in the defensive end, played physically, and played big-time minutes.

Believe it or not, Miller also played extremely well against the Pittsburgh Penguins the afternoon before on March 16. In that game, a Rangers 7-4 win, Miller had three points on one goal and two assists, was a +/- +1, and logged 23:06 minutes of ice time.

Not only is he producing, but he is not making as many errors with the puck. Miller is doing a much better job of protecting it, making decisions with it, and not putting it into dangerous areas on the ice.

In an article written by Larry Brooks of The New York Post on March 11, Brooks noted that the Rangers are seeing the best version of Miller. Miller told Brooks that voluntarily sitting out a few games helped him get his game back in order.

“I think after that start, I just kind of sat down with myself and evaluated my game from the start up until then,” Miller told The Post in advance of Monday’s 3-1 victory over the Devils at the Garden. “I didn’t love my game so I tried to spend a little more time at the rink and work on my game a little bit more than I guess I had been earlier.

“Putting in the work was the key to turning it around for me.”

Lastly, you can see that Miller is playing with a lot of confidence right now. He has not been afraid to jump into the offense, put pucks on the net, or throw the body.

There is no doubt that Miller will still have his games where he makes noticeable errors. With that said, the way he is playing right now is the Miller that the Rangers need going forward if they want to finish the regular season strong and then go on a run in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

In this weeks episode, we discuss Chytil potentially returning, Presidents Trophy, Panarin, analysis going into the playoffs and more.For more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Chyting Up For Playoffs
  2. Guest Jack : Playoffs on the Horizon
  3. All Time High Vibes
  4. Guest Josh Khalfin
  5. The Encouraging but Injury Concerning Backend

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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