BOSTON — Kevan Miller made his NHL debut on Thursday night against one of the best, most explosive teams in the NHL. Not only did he handle himself well, he looked like a proven veteran.
The California native was called up Wednesday night on an emergency basis, and with Dennis Seidenberg expected to miss a week or so, Miller was quickly inserted into the lineup. Already down a defenseman in Adam McQuaid, the Bruins went with a defensive corps that featured two rookies and a 20-year-0ld.
Yet Miller fit in seamlessly as he and his youthful brethren were very good in what eventually became a 3-2 shootout loss for the Bruins. Still, Miller earned plenty of praise from his head coach after the game.
“Kevan Miller played extremely well,” Claude Julien said. “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.”
Miller was awarded not only with an “attaboy” from Julien, the 26-year-old was given plenty of chances to show what he could do. Miller played 17:42 in his debut, which was actually more than fellow rookie D-man Torey Krug played. He was on the ice for the Carl Soderberg‘s game-tying goal in the third period. Miller was trusted with penalty-kill time when Matt Bartkowski was in the penalty box in the third period, and Miller also played one long shift of 1:10 in overtime.
“I mean right away there was a pause in the beginning there, and it took me a little bit to get going, but I felt pretty comfortable through all three periods,” Miller said after the game. “I think overall I handled the puck pretty well. I tried to be physical when I could and just do the single plays so I’m happy with it.”
It must be especially nice for Miller to be back with the team after the way training camp and the preseason ended. Miller had a very nice camp and looked good in preseason games, but the writing was kind of on the wall. Defensively, the Bruins are one of the deepest teams in hockey, so it just wasn’t a fit, at least not right away. The injuries opened the door, though, and now Miller is trying to make the most of the chance.
“To be an eighth defenseman is all good and dandy I just I know the organization felt it was best for me to continue to play games and develop down [in Providence] and I completely agree with that,” Miller said. “I think that’s helped me a long way.”
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