Miller excited to make NHL debut vs. Blues

Miller excited to make NHL debut vs. Blues
November 21, 2013, 2:30 pm
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Kevan Miller's deal will pay him $1.6 million over the two seasons following this season.

(AP Photo)

Kevan Miller thought he might have made his NHL debut before November given that he was part of the Bruins’ opening roster to start the season.

But the 26-year-old former UVM standout was only on the roster as a salary cap measure as an eighth defensemen despite an excellent training camp, and was back with Providence to start the AHL season. Unfortunately the rugged blueliner was concussed in his first game back with the Providence Bruins, and it took injuries to Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid for Miller to finally get his shot.

Miller was watching the Tuesday night game against the Rangers when Seidenberg left after one shift and 1:01 of ice time, and assumed either he or one of his teammates would be getting the NHL phone call he received on Wednesday. Both Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow have been hit with injuries in Providence as of late, so Miller made sense given the defensive snarl lost with the absence of Seidenberg and McQuaid.

“Eight defensemen would be a lot to carry, and they wanted to send me down so I could play rather than sit on the bench up here,” said Miller, who has three points and a minus-7 in 12 games for the P-Bruins to go along with 38 PIMs. “I knew that if I played my game and paid attention to the little things that I would get a chance.”

But he’ll get that NHL debut on Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues while filling into McQuaid’s spot in a bottom defensemen pairing with Torey Krug. His parents will be there to watch him play after hopping on a last minute flight from Los Angeles after they’d just returned to California from an East Coast trip for the defenseman’s 26th birthday. ‘

So it’s mapping out to be a pretty memorable night for the big, strong stay-at-home blueliner.

“This is my third year here, and I just kind of needed to believe in the process,” said Miller. “There are a lot of guys that have been in the same situation. It’s a really good feeling.”

Miller will probably be spoon-fed minutes and kept off special teams’ situations to start as more ice time burdens will be placed on Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton amid the injuries. But Bruins coach Claude Julien also developed plenty of confidence in the defensive defenseman while watching him throw his weight around in the preseason.

“He’s a big, strong, solid defenseman. Moved the puck fairly well [and makes] the simple play. Again, probably his strength is his battle along the walls and in front of the net he’s a big strong individual,” sad Julien. “So I thought he played a steady game, I thought he got better as camp went on; more confident from playing some games at this level.

“So he’s got an opportunity tonight to step in and show that he can play against one of the best teams in the league actually.”

McQuaid might be back in the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes after participating in Thursday’s morning skate, but a solid showing from Miller could go a long way toward earning more NHL chances when the Bruins have need for a big, strong defenseman in the future.