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Diving into J.T. Miller’s drastically improved underlying 5v5 numbers: Canucks Conversation

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Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Clarke Corsan
3 months ago
On today’s episode of Canucks Conversation, David Quadrelli and Harman Dayal delve into the numbers for J.T. Miller after he was voted to his first All-Star game as a Canuck. Miller is currently 4th in the NHL with 60 points, which is only a few more than he had at the same time last year, but the underlying stats are the biggest eye-openers. The guys discussed why his performance this year is helping the team more than in years past.
“It feels like we’ve talked a lot about Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, in part because of his contract situation, and everybody knows Miller is having a monster year, but I wanted to highlight how big a difference it is compared to last season, especially the first 50 games or so under Bruce Boudreau,” said Harm. “It’s easy for someone who doesn’t watch the Canucks to look at his point totals that look pretty similar to last year and think, ‘Oh, similar overall impact,’ but five-on-five, there’s been a massive difference.”
“Before the coaching change, at basically the same point in time in the season as we’re at now, J.T. Miller ranked 190th among all NHL players with just 15 five-on-five points,” continued Harm. “The Canucks not only had rough underlying numbers but were minus 11 in goal differential with Miller on the ice. Fast forward to today, Miller ranks top 10 among all NHL players with 28 five-on-five points, which is nearly double, and the Canucks are at a plus 14 goal differential with him on the ice. That’s a massive difference. A lot of people could have looked at Miller’s play and said, ‘He’s a power play merchant.’ A big chunk of his production was also coming shorthanded, which is a bit of a mirage because he also had one of the highest goals-against rates on the PK, and a lot of people would argue that’s empty-calorie point production. This season, it’s been a night-and-day difference, and that’s one of the biggest reasons why the Canucks have been excellent so far this year.
“How much of it comes down to the coaching change?” Quads asked.
“It’s a massive part,” Harm answered. “I did a lot of digging on this before the season started because Miller had that great 30-game turnaround under Rick Tocchet. The point that kept coming up was under Boudreau, because he’s a laid-back, letting-things-go type of head coach, Miller felt there was a lack of accountability among the players. When the Canucks got off to this awful start last year, he was almost a dictator in the locker room and was almost like he forgot about what he needed to focus on, and he himself was trying to wrangle the team together.”
Harm continued: “That created a bad cycle for not only J.T. but I imagine it probably rubbed some teammates the wrong way. When Tocchet came in, a huge part of why he was able to turn it around was that Tocchet is that guy who can hold players accountable. Miller was able to take a step back, and the message was ‘focus on your own game.’ I think that mindset shift made all the difference in the world. Not to mention watching him play, why is he playing so much better from a defensive and two-way perspective? It comes down to his puck management and lack of turnovers. A big reason for that is they’re trailing less in games, so he’s not forcing plays. J.T. is someone who wears his heart on his sleeve, and when he gets frustrated, he’s the type to let it affect his decision-making. I think now he’s in a much better frame of mind because of the team and coaching situation, and you can see it on a night-to-night basis.”
You can watch the full segment in the video below:

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