It was not the best night for the Boston Bruins on the defensive end or the penalty kill, dropping Tuesday night’s game 5-4 to the San Jose Sharks.
The Joe Thornton line “ate us up” according to head coach Claude Julien.
Right from the start, the Black and Gold allowed a goal less than a minute into the game. Defenseman Kevan Miller was on the ice paired with Zdeno Chara on Joe Pavelski’s goal. That was the least of Miller’s problems on the night. One shift later, Miller was torched by Pavelski again leaving the TD Garden crowd stunned.
While fans were still wondering why Colin Miller wasn’t in the lineup after being deemed healthy, Kevan Miller may have screened Tuukka Rask on the second goal of the night as well.
As Julien tried to mix and match his defensive pairings all night, Miller was paired with Dennis Seidenberg to end the period in which both had inexcusable breakdowns leaving Melker Karlsson alone in front, leaving Rask to bail them out. The common theme here is Miller being more of a liability while getting ice time.
It was a tough night for Miller all around. It seemed as if there were moments he couldn’t stay on his feet while losing his assignments. He brings that edge and physicality Julien likes, but it may be time to have him watch from Level 9. His display in the first period was eye-opening, making too many mistakes leading to costly goals and turnovers.
Miller finished the night with 15:54 of ice time, which may be too much according to many fans, and he didn’t play during the final 10 minutes of regulation. His rating was even, which is surprising given that he was on the ice for four of San Jose’s five goals.
Julien expanded on the defensive lapses in his postgame press conference, and while not singling out one guy, Miller has to be the center of attention.
“Sloppy tonight, sloppy,” Julien said without hesitation. “Really that’s the only word I can find right now. Mistakes that, again, guys should know better.
“So is it focus? Is it trying to do too much? I think we really need to prepare ourselves better for games and know what we have to do in our defensive zone. We’ve been much better than that in the past. I don’t buy that the new players are the reason that it’s not happening. Everybody knows what needs to be done; they can tell you exactly what went wrong without you saying anything. If they know, then they should know when they’re playing on the ice as well.”
Brad Marchand said it best when addressing if everyone on the team is carrying their own weight.
“We have to look in the mirror, and each and every one of us have to be better. I don’t think anyone can say they’ve played their best so far this year,” he said. “Like I said before, that’s what we need. We need everyone to be good every night.”
Whether it’s commitment, effort or more reps in practice, Miller needs to regain the trust of his coaches and teammates because his display on Tuesday night wasn’t pretty. The 28-year-old was supposed to be an intricate part of an already thin blue line this season for the Black and Gold, but it has been a tough go as of late.
Miller departed TD Garden before the media arrived, not wishing to comment on his performance Tuesday night. We will see how he responds Thursday night if Julien gives him the nod.