BOSTON – Kevan Miller is building a reputation as a ferocious body checker and a capable NHL fighter who's not to be taken lightly. Those two traits make him a perfect fit for the Boston Bruins, and he exhibited them both early in Boston’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens Monday night at TD Garden.
He threw a couple of thunderous hits through the game, but the one notable incident wasn’t even really a hit. Miller and Dale Wiese were both speeding into the corner when a slight nudge by the rookie defenseman seemed to knock the already stumbling Montreal forward completely off kilter. Wiese crashed into the boards before slowly skating off the ice as the refs called a cross-check on Miller.
It didn’t appear to be an overtly dirty hit, but that didn’t stop Travis Moen from jumping in to challenge Miller. The Bruins defenseman dropped him to the ice with one punch, and then ended a flurry of punches with another knockdown punch after Moen rose looking for more. Eventually the Habs forward also needed assistance getting to the Montreal dressing room, and the Canadiens were down two physical forwards less than five minutes into the game.
Neither returned to the game. And afterwards, Miller expressed his concern.
“I hope [Wiese] is all right — both those guys," he said. "To be honest with you about the hit, I felt bad about it. I just kind of bumped into him. I think he was a little off balance. I stood there just trying to make sure he was okay for a second, and Moen asked if I wanted to go. I just hope they’re both okay.”
Miller finished with only 13:09 of ice time and had a couple of giveaways during the game, but there was also no denying the kind of impact he's made. He's tied with Zdeno Chara for the top spot among Bruins players in March with a plus-14 rating while also playing 18:06 a game
“He’s been really impressive,” said Patrice Bergeron. “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, and he basically didn’t give many choices but to keep him.
“He didn’t leave any of the [Bruins] management a choice to go back down. So credit goes to him and he’s been great for us. I’m really happy to have him.”