The Biggest Surprises for New York Rangers in 2014 NHL Playoffs
Numerous players have contributed to the three wins, but which players have been the biggest surprises in the postseason?
While we expected such stars as Martin St. Louis and Henrik Lundqvist to play their best, we're more interested in which under-the-radar players have stepped up and played well.
Read on to find out the biggest surprises for the Rangers in the 2014 NHL playoffs.
Dominic Moore has upped his play when it matters most.
In five postseason games, Moore has two goals and one assist while playing solid defensive hockey and stirring up the pot with Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. He is also winning 62 percent of his faceoffs.
Moore has been good all season, but in these playoffs, he's added a new dimension of speed and grit. That, in turn, has led to two hardworking goals that came off of good speed in on the forecheck.
As Brad Richards told Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record about Moore:
It’s just another guy on our depth that we’ve prided ourselves on that all year. We play four lines and everybody has a different role and so he’s a big PK guy. Tonight on faceoffs he was unbelievable. That’s just our MO and you can’t have that if you don’t have a good fourth line and I think he makes that fourth line go.
Role players are so essential in the playoffs. Moore is the prototypical role player, and he has shown what he can do in the postseason.
I've been pleasantly surprised with the way John Moore has played in this series.
Toward the end of the season, Moore was in danger of being benched in favor Raphael Diaz. When Moore was concussed in late March, Diaz stepped in and played well.
But then, Ryan McDonagh went down, and Moore returned to the lineup and averaged nearly 19 effective minutes.
In the playoffs, he's carried over that fine play. Averaging a little over 14 minutes a game, Moore is a plus-one with five shots on goal.
Obviously, he's not going to see the likes of Giroux and Jakub Voracek, but against the dangerous third and fourth lines of the Flyers, the 23-year-old has acquitted himself well.
It wasn't too long ago that J.T. Miller was deep in the doghouse.
“He just hasn’t earned the right to be at this level on a regular basis,” Alain Vigneault told Larry Brooks of the New York Post in early April. “He needs to show more commitment on the ice and off. Until he does that, he hasn’t earned the right.
“J.T. has to figure it out and hopefully he will,” Vigneault continued. “When he does, we’re going to have a good player. If he doesn’t, he will be a good minor league player.”
It looks like he may be out of the doghouse now. Inserted in Game 5 for Dan Carcillo, Miller played an effective 10 minutes in his playoff debut, registering one assist, a shot on goal and finished plus-two.
Miller displayed good chemistry with Brad Richards and Carl Hagelin and played a north-south game that is so effective in the postseason.
He didn't make any of the defensive mistakes that he usually does and did not look out of place.
With Chris Kreider still injured, the Rangers need speed. That's what Miller brings. As long as he remains defensively responsible, Miller could be an inspired addition by Vigneault.