K’Andre Miller on Year 3 progress, Rangers’ long-term role

Assessing players out of pre-season is crazy work. (Is this a setup for a punchline, or what? I’ll be here all week.) But seriously, people, different players are trying to accomplish different things during camp and exhibition season, the way pitchers can work to develop another pitch during spring training to their statistical detriment.

Either way, K’Andre Miller looked like he was on his way to becoming Paul Coffey II, a hard-pressed defender who could lead the attack and go all the way when it suited him.

It hasn’t worked that way yet.

« I feel like I’m still building on last year and the kind of playoffs I had, » Miller told The Post after Monday’s practice. “I want to build on this base.

“I want to be a stable, reliable defender who recognizes offensive opportunities when they arise and can take advantage of them. I would like to use my attacking instincts a little better.

K’Andre Miller is still working to harness his offensive instincts and remain a reliable defender. « I want to be able to join the rush and act as a fourth striker, » he said.

« I want to be able to join the rush and act as a fourth striker, » added the No.79, who made the transition to attacking defense at 16. « As for end-to-end rushes, it’s not something that’s on my mind. It’s a game of hockey. It’s not something I aim for when I’m on. If the Opportunity comes in the game, so OK, but I don’t go on the ice thinking of going all the way.

Miller has settled in so well since the start of his career that it’s easy to forget the 6-foot-5, 210-pound player is just 22 years old and in his third NHL season. Much like Adam Fox, we were spoiled by the quality – and perhaps even more than that, by its balance – it seemed from the start. Miller has been a top-four defenseman since Game 4 of his rookie season when he was paired almost exclusively with Jacob Trouba.

The trajectory of young players, perhaps even more so that of young defenders, is not often represented by an arrow pointing up. There are steps back, adjustments to be made, experience to be acquired. There are side steps.

Miller hasn’t been at his best so far. There were boos when it came to decisions with the puck and the front-of-the-net defense — universal for all Rangers defensemen, by the way — but Miller isn’t the root cause of the uneven getaway. of the team’s 13 games.

New York Rangers defenseman K'Andre Miller (79) tries to get the puck from Dallas Stars center Roope Hintz (24) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Dallas, on Saturday October 29, 2022.
Miller is logging nearly 20 minutes per game, leading Rangers in even-strength situations.

« I’m playing a lot of minutes, so I’m managing that, » said the Saint Paul, Minnesota native, who is averaging 19:55 per team at even strength, up from 18:43 last season. . « It’s just being ready to go out and get the job done every night against one of the other team’s top two lines.

“The goal is not to be flashy. This is to defend well and close quality opportunities. That’s what I think is my role.

What a difference a year makes

Since the current playoff format was adopted in 2013-14, there has only been one year in which fewer than five survivors have qualified for the Eastern Conference playoffs. It would have been 2017, when only three of the 2016 conference attendees made it to the dance.

(We’re excluding the 2020 tournament, in which 12 teams per conference were invited to compete under the COVID bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. So that eliminates postponements from 2019 to 2020 and from 2020 to 2021.)

In 2017, the Rangers, Capitals and Penguins retained their seats, and the Panthers, Lightning, Flyers, Islanders and Red Wings were replaced by the Maple Leafs, Bruins, Blue Jackets, Senators and Canadiens.

Mika Zibanejad and Filip Chytil celebrate a goal during the second period of Game 3 of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoff Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning at Amalie Arena on June 5, 2022 in Tampa, Florida.
The Rangers were the only newcomer to the Eastern Conference playoffs last year, replacing an Islanders team that reached the conference finals the previous season.
Getty Images
Getty Images

Last year there were seven repeaters, with the Rangers eliminating the Islanders being the only change to the schedule.

But as of Monday morning, ranking teams by winning percentages — which, in NHL parlance, includes points won by losing (try explaining that to the uninitiated) — instead of points, it doesn’t. there was only a return rate of 50%.

The Bruins, Canes, Lightning and Maple Leafs held playoff positions while the Blueshirts, Penguins, Caps and Panthers were on the outside, pressing their noses against the window while watching the Devils, Flyers, Islanders and Red Wings.

Yes, it’s still a bit early, and yes, it’s time for clubs that have had a disappointing first few months to turn things around. But the Devils, Flyers, Islanders, Red Wings have improved significantly. The same goes for the Sabers, who were tied with the Islanders but had one less regulation victory.

These would-be partygoers build their respective seasons and gain confidence with each victory. Don’t you think the 9-3-0 Devils are on a brick-by-brick high after their three-game sweep in Western Canada in which the Canucks, Oilers and Flames fell one after the other? Don’t think the Red Wings feel it after knocking out Rangers on Sunday?

New York Rangers goalie Jaroslav Halak (41) reacts to a goal by Detroit Red Wings center Pius Suter (24) in the second period at Madison Square Garden, Sunday, November 6, 2022, in New York, NY .
The Red Wings, who just beat the Rangers on Sunday, are firmly in the hunt for the playoffs.
Corey Sipkins

The competition is more demanding this time. This is not an easy task. The threat these teams pose to a Rangers return to the playoffs is imminent. And do we know if the legacy Pittsburgh and Washington teams have finally reached the end of the line? The answer is no.

bad timing

Here’s what’s most troublesome about the power play of Rangers, who are the club’s flagship unit. Three times this season, the Blueshirts have faced teams that were leading the league shorthanded.

Mika Zibanejad shoots in the Rangers' loss to the Bruins.
The Rangers’ power play was stopped three times against the league’s top-ranked shorthanded unit.
robert sabo

San Jose entered the garden on Oct. 20 ranked No. 1 after going 15 for 15 on the kill. The Blueshirts went to UBS on Oct. 26, when the Islanders were seeded No. 1, having killed 22 of 22. And then, when Boston traveled to New York on Nov. 3, the Bruins were seeded first, allowing only two power play goals. just 37 times.

Facing those three teams and three high challenges, Rangers got a combined score of 0 for 10.


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