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J.T. Miller Is Blossoming Right In Front Of Us

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NHL: New York Rangers at Calgary Flames Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

This New York Rangers offense has been something, eh? Historically hot hands, so many goals you’re not sure if you’re watching hockey or lacrosse and the Rangers are winning a lot of games so handily you’re no longer chewing your fingers off when watching them.

Mike mentioned on the podcast this week about hot J.T. Miller’s hot start has been impressive to watch. From there we spiraled into Kevin Hayes’ dominance and all started rocking back and forth because we weren’t sure if the Rangers were this good or if we were all in a sick hallucination.

Regardless, Miller’s ascension to the top of the Rangers’ scoring chart isn’t a fluke. The 23-year-old has been downright dominant for the Blueshirts, and continues to be a consistent source of offense for a team that doesn’t need it right now but might need it later.

Miller leads the Rangers with 17 points in 17 games. Only him and Chris Kreider are scoring at a point-per-game pace, and Kreider has played in just 11 games this year. Miller’s 17 points tie him for 5th in the NHL in points (15 players have 17 points or more). That’s already impressive, but what’s more impressive is Miller’ even strength scoring.

Of Miller’s 17 points, only two have come on the power play. So 15 of his 17 points are at even strength. Of the players in front of him, only Nikolaj Ehlers (17 points in 18 games) has as few power play points. Kevin Hayes, by the way, has 16 points in 17 games with just a single power play point.

Even strength scoring is one of the most coveted things a hockey team can have in a player. It means a player’s scoring isn’t inflated by being a power play specialist (not that it’s a bad thing to have this be true) and at these levels it usually means the player is carrying his own water when it comes to creating opportunities.

To put this in perspective: Patrick Kane led the NHL in even-strength scoring last year with 57 points. Mats Zuccarello was 22nd with 39 points. It’s a list of the more elite goal scorers in the NHL, because they’re able to create offense consistently without the help of being up a man.

Right now Miller is on pace for 72 even strength points — which would be an absurd total 5v5. That pace is almost guaranteed to be not sustainable, but it should give you a great indication of where Miller is right now.

Of all the Rangers high-octane forwards, only Miller has a somewhat normal shooting percentage of 17%. That figure will still come down, but not at the levels of the guys shooting in the 34% range (remember Jimmy Vesey).

His possession numbers aren’t great (but are trending up) and I don’t like referencing them here because, again, the Rangers are winning games by enormous margins and he’s been on the ice for a lot of garbage time hockey. His scoring chance for percentage has trended above the 50% margin, which is something I’m much happier to see in the context of possession right now.

Still, Miller’s success has been a big part of the Rangers doing so well. We speculated this year might be the year Miller breaks out.

And right now we seem to be right.