K’Andre Miller’s defensive play has been solid start to this season

Which Rangers defenseman misses the net the most?

Lost in the shuffle of the offensive woes is how some of the second year pros are progressing. K’Andre Miller, in particular, has had a solid shift in his play. Last season, he was raw and had some clear flaws in his game. This year, he’s much more fine tuned and has turned his defensive plan around almost completely. Similar to Kaapo Kakko last year, we’ve seen as close to a 180 on K’Andre Miller’s defensive play as we can get.

Way too early chart look

Yes it is way too early to look at the charts. We usually need 20+ games before these stabilize. That said, we can see a big turnaround on his even strength defensive play. He’s limiting both quality and quantity against, and given how inconsistent the Rangers have looked, this is even better than the improvement looks.

For all intents and purposes, the offensive impacts are still the same, and again given how anemic the offense looks, I think we should expect these to improve throughout the season. One thing I focus on in the GF/60 vs. xGF/60, showing that Miller is a victim of some on-ice bad luck. We’ve covered how the Rangers can’t buy a goal right now, and are shooting well below their skill level. That should also balance out at some point, and we should see some points for Miller.

Defense is the harder part

K’Andre Miller’s defensive play is a sign of good things to come. As a converted forward, the defensive aspect of the position is the hardest part to learn. He had all the tools to be great, he just had to repurpose them and fine tune them to a new position. Miller’s length and stick work has taken a big step forward this year. As has his positioning. This is likely due to a bit more of a simplified defensive zone system and message.

Miller certainly has the offensive tools to succeed as well. Without consistent powerplay time, the points may not pile up, which is fine. The key for him is mastering the defensive aspect of the game, and the offense will come. He’s still very skilled, and actually still very raw and developing.

It’s tough to find optimism on this team right now, especially after the road trip, the offensive issues, and the abysmal puck possession numbers. K’Andre Miller’s defensive play is one of those optimism spots, and hopefully something that leads to good things as the Rangers figure things out.