We pro-toughness Rangers fans have been begging for some sandpaper in the lineup all season. And last Saturday we finally got our wish in the form of Dan Carcillo.
Is he the perfect solution? Not even close. But beggers can't be choosers.
Unfortunately, the addition of Carcillo likely means the subtraction of promising rookie JT Miller.
Since Miller's recall on December 19th he has just 1g, 1a, however, stats can be deceiving. He not only brought immediate stability to a struggling lineup, but his presence between Beniot Pouliot and Carl Hagelin seemed to jump start both of the speedy wingers' seasons. The Rangers are also 5-2-1 in the seven games Miller has suited up in since being summoned from Hartford.
As Alain Vigneault has recently said about Miller, it seems as though he's getting caught up in a numbers game. Even before the Carcillo acquisition, he was the odd man out when Ryan Callahan returned from a knee injury.
An injury to Derek Dorsett re-opened the door for Miller, but it seems to have quickly shut again upon the arrival of the former Flyer tough guy.
Vigneault addressed Miller's future before the forward was a healthy scratch for Wednesday night's win in Chicago (via Bergen Record)…
"The more I see that young player, I see that potential. If he keeps improving, there's a chance that, someday, he'll become a real effective player."
…Potential. A chance. Someday. Those are probably words Miller doesn't want to hear and likely means a trip back to Hartford in the very near future.
…it's a shame that AV can't find a spot for Miller in the lineup, but I'm guessing depth is a problem the head coach welcomes. I've recently floated Richards' name as a possible candidate to sit for Miller, but with the way the Rangers power play has been producing it'd be counter-productive to remove him from the lineup.
…i'm assuming Boyle and Moore are options but their work on faceoffs and the penalty kill likely keeps them in lineup.
Which brings us back to Carcillo and what he brings to the lineup. Here's Vigneault before the newest Ranger's debut in Chicago (via Bergen Record)…
"I see Dan bringing a lot of energy. Sometimes you need those tempo, momentum shifts during the game, where a guy goes out and gets a couple of big hits and brings a lot of energy."
…while Carcillo played an integral part in the Rangers victory Wednesday night as Zuccarello's first period power play goal was the direct result of a penalty he drew, the 29-year old forward was fairly non-existent for the remainder of the game. In fact, I thought the Rangers second period lull offered him the perfect opportunity to provide a spark which he unfortunately either passed on or isn't capable of performing.
…when the Rangers initially obtained Carcillo, I was concerned about him not knowing the line between being effective and a liability, but the more research I've done on him, I'm finding out that I should probably be more worried about him not being enough of a nuisance. Apparently, the knee injuries that befell him in Chicago combined with his numerous suspensions have transformed him into Carcillo light. Gone are the days of him being a meathead on skates. Instead, cautiousness is said to be the name of his game. If he's not willing or able to mix it up, Sather has essentially signed another Arron Asham. Let's hope a return to the Eastern Conference rekindles some of that nastiness we all remember.
…if not, our angst about Miller being placed in NHL perpetuity will likely be over very quickly.