As the Bruins look for stability on their blue-line, Colin Miller is hoping to remain a stable presence on the back end.
Over the last two games, he is giving head coach Claude Julien a reason to keep him in the defensive rotation.
“Well, today and last game I really thought Colin has really played some of his best hockey in the last couple games. It’s nice to see that and we’re hoping that’s what is to come because he’s been really good playing the way he has,” Julien said about Miller. “He’s assertive, he’s moving the puck, skating the puck well. He’s got a good shot, it’s just a matter of making sure that he builds on that and continues to develop in that area and we will be happy with him.”
When Kevan Miller returned last month following a shoulder injury, Colin Miller found himself watching games from the Level 9 press box with Joe Morrow. An injury to John-Michael Liles found Miller and Morrow vying for that sixth blue-long spot on a pair with the former Vermont Catamount. In that span, Matt Grzeclyk was called from Providence for a pair of games to kick off his career in the National Hockey League.
Colin Miller was indeed the odd man out for a trio of games against the Maple Leafs, Canadiens and Penguins before returning to the lineup on Thursday against the Ducks as Kevan Miller was recovering from the flu. The younger Miller notched his third highest total time on ice on the year skating 20:30 on 23 shifts. Even on a night where the Black and Gold were haunted by defensive and goaltending mistakes, Miller stood out.
“Well that’s what we’ve been looking at for a long time, and those young players have their ups and downs as far as consistency,” Julien said about Miller on Thursday. “But tonight was a good game.”
So was Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings, the team that selected Miller 151st overall in the 2012 Entry Draft.
With his prolific slap shot, Miller tallied an assist as Jimmy Hayes’ tip-in past Peter Budaj gave the Black and Gold the only goal they needed in a tightly contested contest at TD Garden. From his chances with the second power play unit – which generated most of the Bruins’ chances on an afternoon where they went 0-for-4 on the man advantage – to his assertiveness in the defensive end and quickly moving pucks up ice, Miller showcased what he is capable of to remain in the lineup.
Though goals were hard to come, especially without David Pastrnak as he recovers from his procedure to remove an olecranon bursa, Miller and the rest of the Bruins defense gave the Kings very little to work with.
“It’s been a little better,” Miller said about his performance over the last two games.
“But I thought our team did a great job today kind of managing a good team over there,” Miller added about keeping the Kings in check. “We’re happy with a win.”
As long as he’s helping the team in some capacity, whether it’s firing shots with his heavy shot, helping the power play overcome their seemingly never-ending slump or staying sound in all three zones, Miller will give Julien and his coaching staff something to ponder over when discussing the nightly lineup.
In the highest ranks of professional hockey, Miller is finding out first hand that consistency is the key to staying with the big club.
“Everybody is going to bring their best effort,” said Miller, who was consistently back and forth between Providence and Boston last year after coming over in the Milan Lucic trade. “It’s a tough league to be in and a tough league to stay in. You have to bring that effort, and if you don’t you won’t be playing for very long.”
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