Miller Nosed out for AHL Player of the Week

Thought that J.T. Miller might get the nod for AHL Player of the Week today, after his eight-point (two goals, six assists), +6 performance in the Wolf Pack’s three games this past week, and he probably would have, had it not been for the Providence Bruins’ explosion yesterday.

The P-Bruins swamped Adirondack 9-3 Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, and that game saw Alexander Khokhlachev erupt for five points, on a goal and four assists.  That gave Khokhlachev nine points (three goals, six assists) in three games on the week, and he ended up taking Player of the Week honors.Action Shot for Blog - 03-10-14 - Miller

I thought maybe Miller’s glittering plus/minus number (Khokhlachev was +3), as well as the fact that the Wolf Pack won two of their three games, while the Bruins had a regulation loss and a shootout defeat to go along with their blowout win, might swing the decision in Miller’s favor, but such was not the case.  It also might have hurt Miller that the P-Bruins’ Seth Griffith also had eight points on the week, and five of his were goals, including four in the strafing of the Phantoms.  Sometimes goals get weighted as more important than assists in these types of things, so the feeling might have been, if we don’t give it to Khokhlachev, then how do we give it to Miller over Griffith, with Griffith having scored three more goals?

Regardless of how the decision was arrived at, though, there can be no taking anything away from the strong statement Miller made in his latest return from the NHL.  He had chalked up a goal and an assist in the three games he had played with the Rangers before being sent back, and could have easily been wondering why that wasn’t good enough to keep him up, but if that kind of thought was going through his mind, he channeled it into his play in a very positive way.  His line was on the ice for only one goal-against the whole weekend, and he made some tremendous skill plays, like the nifty little deflection he scored on early in the third period of the Albany game, and a great pass to T.J. Hensick for the score that brought the Wolf Pack to within one goal in Manchester yesterday, in the last minute of regulation with the goaltender pulled.

As I was getting ready to interview Albany coach Rick Kowalsky before Saturday’s game, he bemoaned the fact that Miller had been sent back to the Wolf Pack just in time to play his team, and that sentiment proved to be prophetic.  The Devils certainly could have won that game, outshooting the Pack 36-21 and controlling significant stretches of play, but Miller and linemates Ryan Bourque and Jesper Fast, with important help from backstop Dov Grumet-Morris, ended up carrying the day in the end.

The Wolf Pack have two four-point games on the year and Miller has both of them, after scoring one of the Hartford goals Saturday and assisting on the three others.

The Wolf Pack haven’t had a Player of the Week in over two years, since Kris Newbury in the last week of calendar year 2011, but if Miller continues to dominate like he did last week, the only thing that will stop him from winning one of those nods will be if he doesn’t stay in the league long enough.

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