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The Quadsome Canucks Player of the Week: JT Miller

Four reasons why J.T. Miller was the best player on the Canucks this past week.
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J.T. Miller 12.12.19 Bulis.Canucks vs the Canes Vancouver Canucks vs the Carolina Hurricanes, Canucks win 1 - 0 in OT, Pettersson gets the winning goal. photo: Dan Toulgoet

In the second edition of Quads’ Awesome Canuck of the Week, J.T. Miller takes home this most prestigious of honours.

The start of Miller’s tenure with the Vancouver Canucks could not have gone much better. After the Canucks traded for him at the draft, many in Vancouver questioned the premium cost that general manager Jim Benning paid to acquire him; a conditional 2020 first round pick. 

Almost immediately, Miller found a home on the first line alongside Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser to complete the “Lotto Line.” The trio were one of the best lines in the league right up until January when they were briefly split up, with Jake Virtanen taking Boeser’s spot.

This past week the line was reunited, and Miller played especially well. Here are the four reasons why Miller is this week’s Quadsome Player of the Week.

1 | He stuck up for Elias Pettersson in a way you may have missed. 

This past week, a major talking point within the city was the Canucks lack of pushback after Boston Bruins’ defenceman Matt Grzelyck delivered a late hit on Pettersson that forced him to miss the Canucks’ next game.

The next game against the Minnesota Wild, we saw Jake Virtanen get into a fight early on after linemate got blown up by a big hit. Then Zack MacEwen got into a fight later in that game, as well. 

It was clear that the Canucks themselves weren’t happy with the lack of pushback, and were out to show their opponents that they won’t let them walk all over them. This was true in Saturday night’s game against the Calgary Flames, Pettersson’s return to the lineup.

Very early on, Flames forward Mikael Backlund delivered a cross check to the back of Pettersson that sent him down to the ice, grimacing in pain.

Miller wasn’t going to let this fly, and since Backlund isn’t much of a fighter, Pettersson’s linemate chose to drop the gloves with Matthew Tkachuk instead to set the tone early and send a clear message to everybody watching. 

2 | He continued to throw his weight around. 

Hits are a tricky stat because if a player is throwing a ton of hits, it usually means he doesn’t have the puck and may even be putting himself out of position chasing hits. 

But in the case of Miller, he not only leads the Canucks in hits, but in corsi as well, a stat used to measure how often a player is in the offensive zone compared to his own end. 

This past week, Miller had three hits against Boston, two against Minnesota, and three against Calgary. When the Canucks are trying to play more physical, it’s good to have a top line player like Miller setting the tone for his team. 

3 | He was great in the faceoff dot.

Although he's technically a winger on the Lotto Line, Miller handles the faceoff duties instead of Pettersson. That's mainly because he's excellent on the draws: he has a 60% faceoff percentage on the season — among players with at least 100 faceoffs this season, that leads the entire NHL.

Last week, Miller won 75% of his draws against Boston, 62.5% against Minnesota, and 61.5% against Calgary. In order to control play and keep possession of the puck, two things Miller is exceptional at, you need to win the faceoff first, and Miller excels at that aspect of the game.

4 | He continued to be one of the Canucks’ highest effort players.

During the current three game losing streak, many people have questioned the effort and compete levels of some of the team’s players. While there’s no statistic to help you measure energy and compete levels, but Miller was noticeable every time he was out on the ice last week.

He had one of the team's two goals against the Wild, a gorgeous solo effort. With the power play struggling, Miller took matters into his own hands.

It’s veteran players like Miller who have the ability to drag their teammates into the fight and help them get through slumps like the one his team is currently experiencing right now.

As the Canucks set out to improve their fortunes during Sedin week, they will hope that Miller can continue to play the way he has all season long, and particularly how he has played over the past week.