J.T. Miller is filling one hole for the Rangers but leaving another

Of the series of personnel modifications through the first four games, no Ranger has been called upon to make a more

Of the series of personnel modifications through the first four games, no Ranger has been called upon to make a more significant adjustment than J.T. Miller, who has shifted from the wing to the middle following the benching/scratching/demotion of Filip Chytil.

“I think for the most part it’s gone well,” said Miller, who has skated between Rick Nash and either Mats Zuccarello or Michael Grabner. “I feel comfortable playing there, I’ve been good on faceoffs [25-16, 61 percent], and I think I’ve been OK handling the puck.

“I know I’ve got to be better in picking up guys going to the net in our end. When the puck goes out to the top, I have to take a look and be aware of where everyone is, so that’s something for me to work on.”

In moving Miller to the middle, the Rangers have lost their most physical winger. It is unusual for a center to be first in on the forecheck delivering big blows.

“As center I’m usually the last or second-to-last player out of our own end, so I’m not typically able to make those kinds of hits,” the 24-year-old said. “But I can be at least as physical, maybe even more, in the defensive zone where I’m going to be in more battles.

“And where playing the wing, chipping it in and then making the big hit would help get me into the game, as a center I can get into the game by catching the puck in the middle of the ice, handling it and making plays.”


jt-miller-is-filling-one-hole-for-the-rangers-but-leaving-another photo 1Jesper FastRobert Sabo

Jesper Fast, in the latter stages of rehab in the aftermath of his offseason hip surgery, is likely “a week to 10 days” away from rejoining the lineup, according to coach Alain Vigneault.

“He did his on-ice tests [Wednesday] and had the fourth-best score of the whole group,” the coach said. “He’s closing in. He’ll probably need a couple of practices. I’m not sure of the timing.”

Fast, who has played up and down the lineup, is eager to return. Following matches in Columbus on Friday and the following night at home against the Devils, the Rangers are home next Tuesday against the Penguins and a week from Thursday against the Islanders.

“I’m still doing good,” Fast said. “I’m just waiting for the medical team to clear me. It shouldn’t be long.”


Rick Nash has yet to score despite a bevy of chances in the first three games, if not necessarily against the Blues on Tuesday.

“The results don’t come when you focus on statistics,” Nash said. “For me, it’s always about taking the puck to the inside, getting to the net and making the simple right plays. I need to play better defensively, I know that. My defensive game sets up my offensive game.

“I’m not worried, but it’s frustrating to have a start like this when you put in the work over the summer like I did and you come in ready to rock and roll.”


The Rangers last started 1-4 in 2013-14 when they were outscored 25-9 in Vigneault’s first five games behind the bench. The Blueshirts have not opened 1-5 since 1980-81.

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Article J.T. Miller is filling one hole for the Rangers but leaving another compiled by nypost.com

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