Canucks: J.T. Miller pushing Vancouver in playoff direction


J.T. Miller is enjoying a career year for the Vancouver Canucks, and he’s pushing them in the right direction — towards the postseason.

J.T. Miller wearing blue and green to start the season meant the Vancouver Canucks were serious about playoff hockey in 2020. No more rebuild, it was time to get the supporting pieces in place surrounding the team’s very talented young core.

Not everyone was convinced Jim Benning did the right thing when he struck a deal with Tampa Bay. How could a player with only 13 goals last season be the difference-maker? It didn’t make much sense at the time, but now it’s clearly working out to be a no-brainer for Vancouver, and Miller might just be the deciding factor in playoff hockey.

He’s cleared 13 goals already and on Monday night, Miller potted his 18th and 19th tallies of the year — he registered the game-winning goal but also surpassed his point total of 2018-19. With 32 games remaining, Miller owns 19 goals and 48 points. He’s just shy of a point per game, which is close to doubling his output a year ago.

One might argue that the 47 point season everyone witnessed last year, was ultimately enough for Benning to buy-in on the American born skater. Maybe in the eyes of the organization, 47 points could be plugged into the top-six and be the difference in making the postseason. Miller has already climbed over that mark and has 32 more games to add to his point collection. From here on out, everything Miller does this season is a bonus.

Miller has become a first-line lock for Vancouver and his play alongside Elias Pettersson is a vicious one-two punch for the franchise. His two-way play is undeniable and in my opinion, he has earned himself league recognition as the Canucks second-best player. The guy can do it all at both ends of the ice, including the fact that he’s a faceoff professional. According to the NHL website, Miller sits second in faceoff win percentage. His win percentage (59.6) sitting just a fraction away from the league’s very best (59.7).

Surrendering a conditional first-round pick might hurt a bit, but it’s a small price to pay if Miller can get this team playing extra hockey in April. The core for Vancouver is likely reaching its peak in a handful of years, but prior playoff experience is crucial for this club’s inexperienced youngsters.

Yes, the Canucks have a fun and exciting team to watch, but the fans are waiting to see what this team is made of in the playoffs. Time to see if the Canucks can compete against the best when the games matter most. Miller brings a certain style of gameplay that is built for the playoffs and the kids need to learn his ways.

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Travis Green will be looking for him to continue to lead by example and show the young kids what it takes to make it. All he has to do is go out there and keep doing what he’s doing. If he does that, the Canucks will make the playoffs and they’ll be a better team because of Miller. He’s being a difference-maker and he’s got his eyes on the playoffs.