If you were concerned with who was going to fill the void at defenseman for the Boston Bruins with Adam McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg out with injuries, fear no more for the moment. Kevan Miller stepped in for the Black and Gold Thursday night making his NHL debut in front of a sold out crowd of 17,565 at TD Garden.
Although his debut was spoiled by the St. Louis Blues’ 3-2 shootout win, Miller was very solid on the night. He racked up 17:42 of ice time, blocked two shots, had a couple of hits and it was his pinch that lead to the game-tying goal recorded by Carl Soderberg.
Not bad for his first ever NHL game.
“Kevan Miller played extremely well,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “He’s a defensive defenseman who makes good strong plays. He did that tonight. He was strong. I really liked his game. I thought he was a poised player out there for his first real NHL game.”
For most of the night, Miller was paired with Torey Krug but also saw some time with Matt Bartkowski. He had great chemistry with both, but it wasn’t the first time that they’ve played together.
“We’ve played together for a long time and I played with (Torey) Krug as well,” Miller said. “I found a little bit of comfort there which seemed to work out pretty well.”
Many players making their NHL debut can be tentative and nervous. Miller was at first, but gained confidence as the game progressed.
“Yeah, I mean right away there was a pause in the beginning there and it took me a little bit to get going, but I was pretty comfortable through all three periods,” Miller said.
The 26 year-old defenseman knows his role with the B’s and that is not to score goals, but to provide them with toughness and accountability.
Miller was tested in the third period when the Bruins went on the penalty kill for the first time. But, his stay at home style was a good fit on this night, and that’s something he takes great pride in.
“Yeah, that’s something I pride myself in,” Miller said. “I like to be good on the PK and they instilled a little trust in me with that so, it was nice to get that opportunity.”
Miller’s coaches and teammates were very encouraged by the way he played. And he certainly played more like a veteran instead of someone playing in his first career game in the National Hockey League.
“I think overall I handled the puck pretty well,” Miller said. “I tried to be physical when I could and just do the single plays so I’m happy with it.”
As long as McQuaid and Seidenberg are watching the game from the press box, look for Miller to build on Thursday’s debut.
Check out what some of the Bruins had to say following their shootout loss to the Blues: