New York Hockey: JT Miller

Miller out with hamstring injury

September, 14, 2013
Rangers prospect J.T. Miller did not skate Saturday because of a hamstring injury that has been hampering him since the start of training camp.

The 20-year-old Miller, who played 26 games with the Rangers last season, “tweaked” his hamstring during conditioning laps on Thursday and left the ice early again on Friday.

He is expected to miss Sunday’s scrimmage as well as both of the Rangers’ first two exhibition games, Monday vs. the Devils and Tuesday vs. the Flyers, next week.

• • •

In his first full training camp of his professional career, Chris Kreider looked sharp in Saturday’s on-ice session.

The 22-year-old, who had a tremendous start to his NHL career during the 2012 playoffs, struggled to carve out a consistent spot on the team’s roster last season.

Kreider, who played with the AHL’s Connecticut Whale during the lockout, was sent back to the Rangers’ farm team multiple times after struggling to maintain consistency while up with the big club.

Kreider said he’s motivated to make an impact this season.

“I feel pretty good, but I need to keep on building, getting better every single day.”

Rangers coach Alain Vigneault took notice of the former Boston College standout even before he arrived in New York, referencing a YouTube video of Kreider performing a freak feat of power while jumping out of a swimming pool.

Kreider said the video was made when he and a buddy were messing around a few years ago, but clearly his athleticism is no joke.

The Boxford, Mass. native is known for his lower-body strength and speed, and both were on display as he drove the net hard during drills in Saturday’s first session.

Kreider said the team hasn’t done much system work with Vigneault yet, but he’s already identified areas of his game that he wants to improve.

“Keep working on my lateral skating, net-front play, puck protection,” Kreider said. “I could go on and on; I’ve got a lot of things to work on, but those in particular.”

• • •

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi has returned to wearing a visor.

The 27-year-old wore one earlier in his career but shed the protective shield after his first season in New York. Now, after seeing the harrowing ordeal that sidelined defensive partner Marc Staal for half of last season, Girardi has changed his mind.

Girardi said he has been wearing it for the past five weeks.

“Obviously, seeing what Marc went through last year was kind of tough, so I thought it was smart to put one on,” Girardi said.

Having Staal back and healthy should be a huge boost to the Rangers defensive corps. The cornerstone defenseman missed 21 games last year after he was hit in the face with a puck in March.

“He’s a big-minute guy,’ Girardi said. “He eats a lot of minutes, he’s a very dynamic guy out there. He’s a good skater, great defensive player and we missed him a lot last year so we’re really glad to have him back."

Biron is back

September, 13, 2013
Goaltender Martin Biron, who missed the first two days of training camp for "personal reasons," appears to be back for Day 3.

The 36-year-old backup is listed among the group of players slated to take the ice in the third session Friday afternoon.

It's interesting to note, however, that ex-Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg is also still slated to skate Friday. Hedberg, who backed up Martin Brodeur in New Jersey the past three seasons, joined the Rangers in training camp after signing a professional tryout with the club.

Asked Thursday, Hedberg said he didn't know what to make of the audition, but knew it was an opportunity he was "excited" to explore.

J.T. Miller also appears to be OK after leaving the ice during conditioning laps Thursday with what coach Alain Vigneault said was a "tweaked hamstring."

Miller is also expected to skate with Biron and the third group.

Power outage

February, 6, 2013
Wanna take a guess at what the Rangers will be working on Wednesday at practice?

After being blanked on all five man-up opportunities in Tuesday's 3-1 loss to the Devils, the Rangers' woeful power-play now ranks DEAD LAST in the league. The special teams unit has been downright anemic, converting on only three of 35 opportunities through nine games this season.

Now, remember this was a trouble spot for the team last year as well and the Rangers still finished the regular season with 109 points -- the best record in the East -- and made a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. But if the Blueshirts are going to live up to pre-season projections as one of the elite teams expected to challenge for the Stanley Cup, this ineptitude is not going to cut it.

Some other areas of note from Tuesday's game:

Coach John Tortorella called out some of his players as "scared and tentative." Of course, he did not name names but the ice time was pretty revelatory (Brian Boyle played only four shifts in the final frame). And as is his custom, Tortorella had no problem shaking things up and rewarding those players who deserved more ice time.

One of the bright spots of the game for the Rangers was the impressive play of 19-year-old J.T. Miller, who made his NHL debut after being recalled Monday. Miller was one of the team's most energetic forwards and earned some time along with veteran center Brad Richards and winger Chris Kreider.

Kreider also had a fine return to action, registering his first NHL point of the season with the team's lone goal in the third.

Considering the team's 4-5-0 record and the urgency to get things going, expect some line shuffling at practice Wednesday.

Stay tuned.

Miller, Powe set to make Rangers debut

February, 5, 2013
Two new arrivals -- top prospect J.T. Miller and recently-acquired Darroll Powe -- are set to make their debut for the Rangers, and they'll be thrown right into the fire in the midst of a bitter rivalry game against the New Jersey Devils.

Miller, who was recalled Monday, will be playing his first NHL game Tuesday after spending this season with the AHL's Connecticut Whale. His parents, grandparents, brother and girlfriend will all be on hand to mark the momentous occasion.

"Just excited right now. I'm just kind of anxious. I just want to play," Miller said. "I've been looking forward to this since I was a little kid so, I'll just go out there and try to get in the game as soon as possible. I think that will help me the most."

The former first-round draft pick (15th overall, 2011) has eight goals and 12 assists in 37 games for the Whale this season and earned the nod after steadily improving his game down in the AHL. Miller also helped lead the U.S. team to a gold medal in the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championships, an experience he feels will help prepare him for the biggest stage of all.

"That game was something we looked forward to for a long time, with all your buddies. I think that's a different thing, but obviously, the biggest stage is right now," Miller said. "I'm gonna prepare myself for the game and treat it, maybe, like the gold medal game with the excitement there."

The 19-year-old Miller, who is regarded as one of the most promising young talents within the organization, has five games to impress the coaching staff. Because of his age, he is subject to the five-game threshold that many junior players face while up with the big club. The Rangers must make a decision on whether to keep him after five games or send him back to the AHL to avoid burning the first level of his entry-level contract.

Powe has plenty of NHL games under his belt -- 294 over the last four-plus seasons -- but he'll be playing his first as a New York Rangers. The 27-year-old forward was acquired Monday in a trade that sent veteran Mike Rupp to Minnesota in exchange for Powe and forward Nick Palmieri.

"Initially, it was a little bit of a surprise, but when I heard I was coming to the Rangers, obviously it's a great organization and a great team and I'm excited to be here," he said.

Powe is expected to fill a key role on the team's penalty-killing unit; he led all Minnesota forwards in shorthanded minutes last season and finished second in the league with 91 blocked shots. With his ability to play both wing and center, Powe also provides some versatility to the Rangers lineup.

"Powe is a guy that can kill penalties, he's been in the league, does a lot of little things along the boards, and certainly adds to our depth in a lot of situations. I can move guys around," coach John Tortorella said. "So, we're happy to have him."

W2W4: Rangers at Devils

February, 5, 2013
At a glance: The Rangers and Devils meet for the first time since a thrilling Eastern Conference finals series in which New Jersey knocked off its Atlantic Division foe on rookie Adam Henrique's overtime goal to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. In the first of four meetings this season, the two teams will square off with the rivalry kicked up a notch after last spring’s hostilities.

You again: The Rangers get their first shot at revenge back in the building where their 2012 playoff run came to a screeching halt. Winners in four of their last six games, the Rangers are still trying to make up ground against their cross-Hudson rivals. Despite dropping four of their last five games, the Devils are second in the division with a 4-1-3 Atlantic record and 11 points.

Matteau, Matteau, Matteau: It does not appear that 2012 first-round draft pick Stefan Matteau, son of famous Rangers alum Stephane Matteau, will face his dad’s former team on Tuesday. The 18-year-old winger has hit the five-game threshold with the Devils, although he has not played since. GM Lou Lamoriello has yet to make a decision on whether to keep him around or send him back to his junior club.

Miller time: The Rangers recalled J.T. Miller from the AHL’s Connecticut Whale on Monday. The 19-year-old forward, regarded as one of the organization’s top prospects, is set to make his NHL debut against the Devils. Miller, who recently played for Team USA in this year’s World Junior Hockey Championship, has eight goals and 12 assists in 37 games for the Whale. Fellow Whale forward Brandon Mashinter was also called up Monday.

New guy in town: Darroll Powe will likely make his Rangers debut, just one day after being traded to New York from Minnesota. The Rangers sent veteran Mike Rupp to Minnesota in exchange for both Powe and depth forward Nick Palmieri (a former New Jersey Devils prospect). Powe, 27, will add a needed boost to the Rangers on their PK. The former Princeton University standout led all Wild forwards last season in short-handed minutes and finished third in the league with 91 blocked shots.

Surprise addition: Could rookie Chris Kreider make his return to the lineup Tuesday? The 21-year-old winger, who had a stunning playoff debut last spring, has missed the last five games with an injured ankle but was not one of the scratches who stayed out on the ice late for the team's morning skate. Coach John Tortorella did not rule him out.

Miller, Mashinter recalled

February, 4, 2013
Shortly after the Rangers announced a trade that sent veteran Mike Rupp to Minnesota in exchange for forwards Darroll Powe and Nick Palmieri, the team recalled forwards J.T. Miller and Brandon Mashinter from the American Hockey League.

Miller is the most noteworthy of the two call-ups, considering the 19-year-old winger is regarded as one of the organization's top prospects.

The 2011 first-round draft pick (15th overall), who played for Team USA in the recent World Junior Hockey Championship, has eight goals and 12 assists in 37 games this season for the AHL's Connecticut Whale.

Should Miller dress Tuesday against the Devils, he will make his NHL debut. The Rangers then will have five games in which to assess whether to return him to the AHL or keep him with the big club while burning a year of eligibility on his entry-level deal.

Mashinter, 23, has three goals and four assists in eight games for the Whale since being acquired in a trade with San Jose earlier this season.

To make room for Miller and Mashinter's arrival, Benn Ferriero was reassigned to Connecticut after spending four games with the Rangers.