The 2021 NHL season is just five days old, but for the Vancouver Canucks it’s never too early to welcome an important player back into your lineup. After a season-opening 5-3 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday, the Canucks dropped their next two contests — looking lost and out of sync without their leading scorer, J.T. Miller.
Due to what is being called a “close contact” situation between Miller and his teammate Jordie Benn (who tested false-positive), Miller was forced to remain in Vancouver under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol.
Because of that, the Canucks top line has struggled to be the best that they can be, especially on the man-advantage — something that the Canucks heavily relied upon last season in order to win hockey games.
Although the top line was dominant at 5-on-5 on opening night, they’ve struggled mightily on the power play. The team’s bread and butter have looked stale. Clearly, it’s something that’s been deeply affected by a condensed schedule with a shortened training camp and zero preseason games.
Through three matchups so far, Vancouver is yet to convert on more than 10 power play opportunities. But the power play should get a boost in production much sooner than initially anticipated. According to Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy, Miller has been cleared to rejoin the team in Calgary. He’s taken a private jet and could be available for Monday’s second scrap with Jacob Markstrom and the rivalled Flames hockey club.
This is terrific news for the Canucks organization as Miller has become a staple in Vancouver. Without him, Elias Pettersson has struggled to get going and it’s become clear that the Canucks are lacking a certain confidence and swagger that they usually possess.
Hopefully, Miller’s return can not only boost the production of Vancouver’s “Lotto Line”, but the power play as well. So much of the team’s success comes from those three players, and from what we’ve seen through the team’s first three games, Miller could be the most important piece of the puzzle.
Without a doubt, the Canucks will be better off with Miller back in the lineup. Look for him to make a big impact on Monday. The puck drops between the Flames and Canucks at 6 PM Pacific time.