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Canucks' Miller stoked for playoffs: 'Greatest feeling ever'

Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

J.T. Miller and the Vancouver Canucks haven't appeared in a postseason game for almost four years, and the veteran forward couldn't be more excited to end that drought.

"I just love the playoffs," he told Sportsnet's Iain MacIntyre. "And the older I get, the more I love them because your mindset changes. And I guarantee you it will change for every single guy in here. Once you get a taste of it one time - the city, the crowd, the away crowds ... I burn for it. It's the greatest feeling ever."

"Not getting to the playoffs has driven a lot of my frustration," he added. "I don't think anybody on this team has played a playoff game here in this building."

The Canucks will open their first-round series against the Nashville Predators on Sunday night in Vancouver. Since the 2020 playoffs took place in an Edmonton bubble for the Western Conference teams, Rogers Arena hasn't hosted a postseason contest since 2015, when the Canucks lost to the Calgary Flames in the first round.

Only two players from that roster - New York Islanders forward Bo Horvat and Dallas Stars defenseman Chris Tanev - still play in the NHL.

Miller has 78 playoff games under his belt after being a part of four runs with the New York Rangers and two with the Tampa Bay Lightning, making him the second-most experienced postseason performer on the Canucks behind defenseman Ian Cole.

Vancouver was one of the league's biggest surprises this season, ascending to the top of the Pacific Division after finishing 12 points outside the playoff picture in 2022-23. Miller was key to the Canucks' success, pacing the team with a career-high 103 points (37 goals, 66 assists) in 81 contests.

Though the 31-year-old isn't about to limit Vancouver's window for success, he's aware these chances to win the Stanley Cup aren't guaranteed.

"We can do something special here, and we have to realize that," Miller said. "For the most part, teams ... get their crack for only a couple years. ... But we've got a chance to win this year.

"We have a special team. We have our expectations, and we're still building."

The Canucks were eliminated in the second round by the Vegas Golden Knights in 2020. In addition to Miller, five other players on the current team were part of that run: Tyler Myers, Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, and Thatcher Demko. Pettersson and Miller tied for the team lead with 18 points in 17 games.

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