NEWARK -- Before his Off-Broadway audition, 19-year-old J.T. Miller, the Rangers' first-round draft pick in 2011, said he wanted to improve with each shift. He did, during a surprising 14:25, including two shots on goal and 4:35 on the power play in Tuesday night's 3-1 loss to the Devils.
"I was a little jumpy after I went head first into the boards at full speed, other than that I was all right," Miller said. "I kind of feed off some of the things I do by having the puck on my stick and making plays. I was just trying to play my role, finishing checks, being the first to pucks. Just trying to do little things that add up to a good game, I guess."
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Miller, who has played in Hartford all season and with Team USA in the World Junior Championships, said players like Ilya Kovalchuk, with his change of pace, "catches you off guard," but was confident. "I think I can stick with it if I take care of myself."
He enjoyed playing with fellow rookie Chris Kreider. "We actually didn't play together with the Whale, but we were skating fast and getting pucks deep, that's tough to stop sometimes."
Miller is eligible to play five NHL games before burning a year of his entry-level contract.
Hurting Girardi out
Dan Girardi had missed just two games in his 450-game career, both in 2010-11, with a rib cage injury. His third was last night. The team said the defenseman was "banged up, day-to-day." Girardi, who leads the team in blocked shots with 17, was given the day off on Monday, and was in the morning skate. The 28-year-old defenseman has averaged a team-high 24:54 on ice and was missed on the right point on the first power play unit.