Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Is it Miller Time? Looks Like It

There is a saying among those who blog about the New York Rangers as well as a growing number of fans that goes quite simply "In Gordie We Trust." It is our tribute to the Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark, who will leave us shaking our heads when names are called on draft day.

Ranger fans will be so sure that they know who the team will select then swear the Rangers made a mistake with who they picked.

And over time it is Clark who winds up being proven right; his picks are part of a plan where player A will compliment players B + C. That is why the pick of JT Miller has been getting better with each passing week.

For the week ending on January 29, 2012; JT Miller of the Plymouth Whalers is our New York Ranger prospect of the week. Miller in three games was 4-2-6 in helping his Plymouth Whalers win all three games that they played.

Last Thursday against the Barrie Colts, Miller set up the game's first goal as a Whalers earned a 4-1 road win over the Colts. On Saturday Miller was 2-1-3 with his second goal of the game being the overtime game-winning goal in a 6-5 win over the Sudbury Wolves.

Not even 24 hours later Miller followed up that performance with another two-goal game which earned him the game's first star on the road against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. The Whalers won that game in the shootout 4-3 to cap off their week.

Miller in his last four games has gone 6-3-9 as the Whalers have won all four games. Miller on the season is now 19-30-49 which is good for second on the Whalers and puts him in 3rd place among Ranger prospects.

For the New York Islanders the player that we select for their prospect of the week did not have the big numbers that you expect for player of the week, but Brendan Kichton (2011, fifth) got our attention for the plays that he made not the points he scored.

Kichton has worked his way into being one of our favorites not because he leads the Western Hockey League in scoring by Defensemen (10-40-50), but by how his Spokane Chiefs have caught fire because of his play.

With a game left on Tuesday, the Chiefs have had a pretty good month of January. The Chiefs are 10-5 with Kichton going 4-13-17, with two of those goals being game winners.

And honestly, we don't mind when a prospect makes us eat our words as Kichton did yesterday. It might've been his best game of the year and we're glad to be wrong when it means his team won.

The Spokane Chiefs fell behind 3-0 after one period and there we were so sure that this game was over. We know better now as Spokane turned the game around in the second period with Kichton setting up the second goal.

But what stood out the most was how the Chiefs just dominated outshooting the Ice 18-4.  In the third, the Chiefs tied the score to send the game to overtime and Kichton scored the game-winner at 3:10 of overtime for a 5-4 win.

Kichton's play at both ends of the ice was the difference maker and a reason why the Spokane Chiefs have climbed their way into fourth place of the WHL's Western Conference. They trail third-place Portland by eight points while holding two games in hand so we are not counting them out.

(Miller- Aaron Bell of OHL Images, Kichton- Spokane Chiefs)

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