J.T. Miller recalled from Hartford
Web linksSteve Zipay's Blue Notes
J.T. Miller received an early Christmas present when he was recalled from Hartford before the holiday roster freeze deadline on Thursday.
Per NHL rules, he will remain with the Rangers for at least three games through next Friday.
His performance will determine whether he can make his stay with the club longer and turn it into a Happy New Year.
Friday night Miller had an opportunity to impress the Rangers as he faced the Islanders at the Garden, centering a line with alternate captain Brad Richards and Benoit Pouliot.
Rangers coach Alan Vigneault said that Miller stood out with the Wolfpack, scoring seven goals and two assists with a plus-five rating in his past eight AHL games.
Miller usually has played on the wing with the Rangers, but Vigneault wanted to give him a shot in the middle.
"J.T. had been playing well, real well at both ends of the rink," Vigneault said. "They were using him at center. We just felt after discussing where we were at this time, it might be a good time to give him a look. We'll see how he plays. We'll see how he starts tonight and go from there."
Miller certainly is no stranger with the Rangers as this is his third recall this season. He has a goal and an assist and a minus six rating in 17 NHL games.
Vigneault said he decided to have the 20-year-old Miller center a line with the 33-year-old Richards, a 14-year NHL veteran who leads the team in goals (nine), assists (17) and points (26). Richards, normally a center, was on the wing during the pre-game skate.
"He's a real smart player. Got a lot of experience," Vigneault said of Richards. "I'm hoping that he and J.T. might [find] a little chemistry there. We're trying to get some balance. I would like to get some consistency. Hopefully, an experienced guy like Brad can rub off a little bit on J.T. and it will be the start of something real positive."
Perhaps Vigneault was hoping that Miller would rediscover some of the magic he displayed last season when he scored his first two NHL goals in a 4-1 home win over the Islanders on Feb. 7.
"It was a pretty special day," Miller said. "It will be hard to do that again."
But a good, consistent performance would go a long way toward Miller extending his stay with the big club.