Will the Predators have an answer for dominant J.T. Miller in Game 2?

Mike Halford and Jason Brough discuss and break down a big game one victory for the Canucks over the Predators, and how JT Miller played the definition of inspirational hockey.

J.T. Miller was one of nine NHL players to record 100 points this season, but he did not receive the same amount of fanfare as the others.

Granted, Miller does not score like Auston Matthews, leave defenders in the dust like Nathan MacKinnon or pile up assists like Nikita Kucherov and Connor McDavid. But Miller is one of the league’s preeminent power forwards, and he showed why in the Vancouver Canucks’ 4-2 series-opening win against the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

The Predators did not have an answer for Miller, who led all skaters with five scoring chances in Game 1, including three off the rush. Vancouver dominated play when he was on the ice at 5-on-5. His line with Pius Suter and Brock Boeser generated 93.4 per cent of expected goals in 10:06 of ice time, primarily matched up against Nashville’s fourth line of Cole Smith, Michael McCarron and Kiefer Sherwood.

“I think (Miller) deserved to start (the game), and they were starting the McCarron line every period, so that’s probably some of it,” Canucks coach Rick Tocchet told reporters Sunday. “I wasn’t matching it. It just happened that way. … I thought as the game went on, I think (Miller) willed the team. I thought he played really well.”

On Suter’s game-tying goal in the third period, which was originally credited to Quinn Hughes, Miller was obscuring Juuse Saros’ vision in the slot. One of Saros’ biggest weaknesses this season has been fighting through screens. He had an .863 save percentage when screened during the regular season, which ranked 63rd out of 72 goaltenders who started at least 10 games. (Elias Lindholm’s goal was also screened by Roman Josi as the Predators defenceman defended the rush.)

The Canucks are prepared for the Predators to push back in Game 2 on Tuesday as they attempt to tie the series. Miller plans to stay aggressive.

“I’m not going to wait for them to respond,” Miller told reporters. “I think that we should go at them again and go harder. We weren’t perfect by any means (Sunday). I think we can be even better, which is great. … We need to understand that there’s still another gear and come off the high of being back in that playoff environment.”

All stats via Sportlogiq

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.