If there is one defenseman that is making Boston Bruins fans forget about the hard-nosed, gritty and physical Adam McQuaid, it is Kevan Miller.
When Miller signed a two-year, one-way contract through the 2015-16 season in late January he had only appeared in 16 games with the Black and Gold, but apparently it was enough for Peter Chiarelli, Claude Julien and company. The 26-year-old has been a solid addition to the blue line for the B’s while McQuaid still nurses a quad injury that apparently will never get healthy.
During the B’s long 12 game win streak, Miller was a plus-13 while averaging right around 18 minutes per contest including a season high 23:10 against the Colorado Avalanche last Friday night.
Miller gets it. He makes the easy pass, bodies his opponents up, plays physical and knows when he needs to drop the gloves. As we saw last night against the Canadiens, Miller is a 6-foot-2 210 pound animal. When he “hit” Canadiens forward Dale Weise from behind, his teammate Travis Moen wanted to step in and have his teammate’s back. Well, that was the wrong decision as he needed help off the ice after getting pounded by Miller. Both didn’t return to the game.
Lately, Miller has played like a top four defenseman along with Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton, proving to hockey critics he has what it takes come playoff time. If Monday night against the Canadiens was any indication if Miller is ready, I’d say he’s ready with bells on.
Miller is super strong and he is playing with a ton of confidence right now for the Black and Gold at the perfect time.
He may not be the best “puck moving defenseman” as he only has one goal and four assists on the season, but when he is on the ice he is an asset not a liability. And that’s all Julien, Bergeron and the rest of the Black and Gold can ask for.
“He’s been really impressive,” Bergeron said who notched his 23rd goal of the season in the loss. “Even in training camp I kind of noticed him a bit, how strong he was, but also how committed he was to his defense and playing solid hockey. He has just been improving. He basically didn’t give many choices but to keep him. He didn’t leave any of the management a choice to go back down. So credit goes to him and he’s been great for us, really happy we have him.”
Miller will be a key piece to the Bruins run in the playoffs in a few weeks. He is showing he belongs from his play of sticking to the system. He is gaining the respect from his teammates and getting his job done. It’s funny because he was the “next man up” after McQuaid went down and he is turning into a feisty defenseman the B’s need to make a deep run.