Miller teaches Virtanen how to be a true power forward
Coming into his 6th season with Vancouver, Virtanen was on the hot seat definitely feeling the pressure to become the power forward many people were expecting him to become. Being pretty much just an older version of Virtanen, Micheal Ferland was thought to be the guy to show him the ropes. As it turned out, Ferland spent most of the season on the sidelines leaving Miller a chance to slide in and help mentor Virtanen.
Although Miller is more of an experienced player with much more finesse to his finish, Virtanen possesses those same attributes, he just needed some help unlocking his skill set.
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Slowly, Virtanen shaped his craft game after game. Eventually, an opportunity arose for Shotgun Jake to ride the top line in place of Boeser. This is where Miller’s guidance hit its peak with the 23-year-old. Virtanen began to look like the perfect fit on line one and he was bringing elements of his game that he never knew he had.
Quickly the “MVP line” was gaining momentum all while Virtanen was learning how to play physical, chase after the puck, make plays and score timely goals. You could see it in his game, and Miller was often spotted patting Jake on the back or whispering something in his ear.
With the help of Miller, Virtanen was able to have his best season to date. The development of Virtanen’s game made leaps this season, but a lot of his success had to do with the tough love from Miller himself.
At the end of the day, Miller seems to make everyone around him better. He boosted the game Horvat, Pettersson and Boeser. But more importantly, he helped Virtanen break out as a power forward. All-in-all, Miller is a team player and a guy who makes everyone around him play better hockey. Big accomplishment for Miller on this one!