/K’Andre Miller cements place among Rangers’ breakout youngsters

K’Andre Miller cements place among Rangers’ breakout youngsters

One might wonder whether K’Andre Miller sometimes shakes his head and laughs a little bit at the attention the Rangers’ Kid Line has gotten throughout the postseason. Not that it isn’t well deserved. But Miller, 22 and proving every bit as much as Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko, should be in that conversation, too. 

If he wasn’t before, he is after Friday night. 

Miller had scored just once this postseason prior to the Rangers’ 3-2 victory over the Lightning in Game 2 of the conference finals, all the way back in the second period of Game 7 in the opening round against the Penguins. He has found other ways to impress — his physicality, his ability to eat up minutes — but seven games against the Hurricanes came and went without Miller getting a point. 

He rectified that quickly against the Lightning, picking up an assist in Game 1, and scoring just 5:59 into Game 2. 

After Brandon Hagel blocked his initial shot from the slot, Miller gathered his own rebound and scored past Andrei Vasilevskiy to tie the score at one. 

K'Andre Miller celebrates with teammates after his first-period goal.
K’Andre Miller celebrates with teammates after his first-period goal.
Charles Wenzelberg / New York Post

“[Frank Vatrano] made a great play down low, finding me in that high slot,” Miller said. “And try to get a puck on net quick. Got blocked, got it back again, put it on net.” 

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Minutes earlier, the Lightning had jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a Nikita Kucherov power-play goal just 2:41 into the game, grabbing the momentum. Miller snatched it right back, a veritable statement of intent on behalf of his team. 

These Rangers will not lay down for any period of time, or for anyone. Not even the Lightning. 

A couple of hours later, they skated off the Garden ice two games from reaching the Stanley Cup Final, having controlled the game the rest of the way. 

Miller, in just his second NHL season, has everything to do with why the Rangers have found themselves in such a position. 

K'Andre Miller broke his playoff goal drought.
K’Andre Miller broke his playoff goal drought.
NHLI via Getty Images

“He’s been good all year,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s getting better. Every month he got better and better and better, more confident. And he plays 24, 25 minutes a night for us.” 

During the postseason, he was averaging more than 25 minutes a game heading into Friday. Though Gallant has the top defensive pair of Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren at his disposal, he has not shied away from asking Miller and Jacob Trouba to take a heavy share of the toughest matchups on a nightly basis. 

Trouba has gotten attention for his game-changing hits. But Miller has dutifully done what has been asked of him every night. 

Not once has Miller looked his age. Not once has he seemed out of place. Not once has the moment looked too big. 

“He’s been great for us all playoffs,” Fox said. “I think he’s been getting better from day one of the season and making a huge impact. So it’s something we need and something he brings every night.”