Rangers key defenseman out for personal reasons against Toronto

New York Rangers defenseman K'Andre Miller (79) skates with the puck in the third period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers are set to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs for the first time this season. Both teams currently sit in playoff positions, but it appears that the Blueshirts have a slight edge over the Leafs heading into the contest. Either way, it’ll be a close game as both teams are filled with elite skill.

One major factor to consider is that the Rangers are still not healthy heading into tonight’s game. Both Flip Chytil and Kaapo Kakko remain out with injuries, causing the lineup to be slightly altered. Now, the Blueshirts are adding a defenseman to the list of players not participating in the action tonight- but an injury is not the problem this time.

K’Andre Miller ruled out due to personal reasons

Earlier this morning, it was announced that defenseman K’Andre Miller had been ruled out due to personal reasons. This is a major blow to the Rangers, as Miller has been one of the better defenders on the roster through the first 26 games of the year.

When asked about the longevity of this leave of absence, Rangers’ HC Peter Laviolette did not reveal too many details. He wouldn’t comment on if Miller would only miss this one game or if it would be more long-term, and kept it at simply “personal reasons”.

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How can the Rangers respond without Miller?

With Miller ruled out of tonight’s game, the chances are that Zac Jones will once again join the Blueshirts’ lineup. Laviolette has said that “there’s a good chance” Erik Gustafsson will fill Miller’s spot next to Jacob Trouba, which implies that Jones would then fill in Gustafsson’s role.

The defense is going to need to be perfect tonight against the Maple Leafs. Toronto has some of the best offensive firepower in the NHL, and stopping them would have been a difficult task even if the defense was at full strength. There is no room for error tonight, and these new pairings will need to find some chemistry right away.