Vancouver Canucks forward JT Miller is known for being in the headlines.
He was in it many times during his career. For instance, Miller was in the headlines many times last season because he was having a career season and there were many trade rumours surrounding him. But like any athlete, Miller can be in the headlines in a negative way, like right now.
In case you didn’t know, during the Canucks 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Colin Delia (who kept the game close for the Canucks) was apparently called to the bench. However, he hesitated due to the Canucks still being in the defensive zone. Miller was not happy about this and when he had the puck, yelled at Delia to get off the ice and slammed his stick on the crossbar.
A few seconds later, the Canucks couldn’t win the battle in the offensive zone and Mark Scheifele scored in the empty net for the hat trick.
Miller’s outburst at Delia is the biggest topic among Canucks fans at the moment. I’ll give my thoughts on it briefly.
I get why Miller was yelling at Delia. When you play sports, (and I have FYI) communication is key because it helps your teammates and is a catalyst for winning games. However, Miller did not need to circle back with the puck and go behind the net to yell at him. (Also, Brock Boeser should not have dropped it back to him.)There was less than a minute left in the game and the Canucks were down by one goal. What he should have done is move the puck up the ice and as deep as possible.
If you watch the extended clip, Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau did give the signal for Delia with 1:09 left in the period.
Delia was probably hesitant to go to the bench because the Canucks were still in the defensive zone. Usually, the goalie gets pulled when his team is in the offensive zone, perhaps he was waiting for that to happen. Turnovers happen in the defensive zone and if Delia made a beeline to the bench, he’d have to scramble back if a turnover was made. (I guess he wasn’t taking his chances with Miller on the ice, we all know he is very turnover prone.)
“Unless it’s in our locker room, I don’t think anybody’s opinion really matters, to be honest with you, said Miller. “It’s not the coach’s fault. I don’t even know why this is even being talked about. Maybe I shouldn’t have done what I did, but it wasn’t out of anger. I was letting him know to go to the bench. I had full control of the puck, that’s all it was. At the end of the day, it probably looks optically not good. So people with other opinions I don’t really give a — you know, care.”
Boudreau was asked about the Miller and Delia incident on Friday and he took full responsibility.
“It’s my fault, Colin was looking at me and he wasn’t paying any attention to JT,” said Boudreau per David Quadrelli of Canucks Army.” If you’ve ever been on the ice, it’s pretty hard to hear. So I mean, he was trying to get his attention. There was no animosity built. I mean, there’s 48 seconds left in the game. He’s looking at me, I’m waiting for us to come up the ice a little bit to make sure we have possession. I think it’s been blown way out of proportion.”
That last sentence sums it up, it’s been blown way out of proportion.
Miller’s offence has been lacking, especially at even strength
So that’s enough of that.
You’ve been waiting for me to get to the point of the article. Here we go.
We all know Miller is a competitive player and likes to be very vocal on the ice. He also likes to show a lot of anger. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, athletes don’t like losing, professional or beer league.
However, his anger must be used to help the team win. Again, I get what Miller was trying to do but circling back with the puck to yell at Delia cost the Canucks valuable time.
There is one thing Miller can use his anger and that is creating offence.
In his last ten games, Miller has four points. Three of them have been on the power play. That even strength point was a goal against the Oilers in Edmonton on December 23.
Out of Miller’s 30 points, just eleven of them are at even strength. Before the game in Edmonton, Miller’s last even-strength goal was on November 5 against the Nashville Predators. His last even-strength assist before the game in Edmonton was on November 26 against the Vegas Golden Knights. He scored in that game and then went nearly a month without scoring.
Now if Miller wants to yell at someone, it should be at himself for not producing enough at 5 on 5.
If you are a big fan of underlying numbers, they do not write a good story on Miller’s 5-on-5 play this season. Here is what NaturalStatTrick said:
Out of 378 forwards who have played at least 200 minutes in the NHL this season, Miller is 230th in Corsi for percentage, (48.57%) tied for 225th in scoring chance for percentage with Adam Henrique of the Anaheim Ducks) (48.50%) 328th in expected goals percentage, (42.77%) and 310th in high danger Corsi for. (42.94%)
Miller wears the “A” as an alternate captain on his jersey. You can say he deserves to be stripped of the A because he is not showing the capabilities of a good leader.
That’s a fair statement.
Miller’s incident with Delia was not a good display of leadership. If Miller wants to prove he can be a leader for this team, helping out on offence is one way to do it.
He can yell at his teammates all he wants but he’s got to set an example. What’s the point of yelling at your teammates if you aren’t leading by example? Why would they want to listen to you?
Last season, Miller was not good defensively either. Let’s face it, he’s never really been. Some players are just not good defensively because that is not what they are known for. Last season, Miller put up 99 points and 70 were at even strength.
Sure, a large chunk of those points were secondary assists but he was one of the players that lead the way offensively. Last season, Miller’s defence was still an issue but he was putting up so many points that his defensive game was an afterthought.
The Canucks need Miller to help out offensively at even strength. He’s angry when his team isn’t winning hockey games and he needs to use that anger to create offence because that wins hockey games! Who would’ve thought?
Yelling at the goalie to get to the bench is not what can help the team win or a display of leadership. Putting up the points, especially at even strength is what Miller can do. If he’s angry, using that anger to get on the scoresheet will benefit not just himself but the team.