Kevan Miller proving himself to be an NHL-worthy defenseman
Photo via hometownstation.com
If you've watched the Bruins lately, you've been able to see a team that has swept through the National Hockey League, blasting through their opponents in a Napoleon-like conquering of the Eastern Conference. While doing so, veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg has been forced to watch from the sidelines, since his season-ending ACL/MCL injury, and surgery.
When Seidenberg was lost, a huge hole was left in the Bruins defense. Seidenberg is an experienced, well positioned defenseman that wins the majority of his puck battles, and rarely makes a mistake. With him gone, the Bruins have had to rely on less-experienced defenseman, such as Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Kevan Miller.
Everyone already knew the names of Torey and Dougie coming into the season, but not many knew about Kevan Miller, the 26 year old defenseman who has become a huge part of the Bruins blue-line of late. Miller is different than Torey Krug, in that his worthiness has been proven on the defensive side of the ice, rather than in the offensive zone.
Miller has shown himself to be a physical, well positioned defensemen, who uses all of his 6'2", 210 pound body to keep the puck away from the net. He's done a very good job of positioning his body between the man and the puck, keeping them from getting any control of it. Meanwhile, he's holding an extremely good +17 rating in 40 games with the Bruins, averaging 17 minutes of ice-time per game, while tallying a total of 34 penalty minutes.
Plus, it's very safe to say that this guy has balls like church bells. Miller has thrown his fair share of big hits, and hasn't hesitated to drop the gloves (and has held his own) as we saw on Monday night against Montreal.
In the first period, Miller made a hit on Dale Weise, sending him into the boards. Moen, who is similarly built, came over and challenged Miller, who did the right thing and dropped the gloves... Moen didn't realize what he was getting into.
Miller came at Moen like a rabid mongoose, knocking him down immediately. Moen got back up, and a few more punches were exchanged before Kevan Miller delivered a mean right cross to the face of Moen, knocking him down and out. Moen, who is okay, skated off the ice with assistance, and was out on his feet... the lights were on, but nobody was home.
This was one of four NHL fights Miller has gotten into this season (3 AHL fights as well). He's really proven himself of late, becoming a strong, consistent, well disciplined defenseman who, as mentioned before, positions himself tremendously well, a quality that is extremely valuable as an NHL defenseman. Plus, his physical style fits in perfectly with the Bruins game plan. Claude Julien has taken notice to his exceptional play, and commented on it recently.
“He just plays well all-around," said Julien. "He moves the puck well, he defends well, he’s strong, he’s winning his battles, he stands up for himself. So, not disappointed with him at all.”
“We talked the other day about Kevan Miller coming in halfway through the season, and he’s playing like he’s a seasoned vet right now, I don’t see him making too many mistakes and I don’t see him losing too many battles.”
“You know, when you lose a guy like McQuaid for as long as we've lost him — big, strong, physical body — and you replace him with Kevan Miller, who’s done an unbelievable job, I think it makes things a lot easier,.
“You know, we've lost Seidenberg, and then you lose McQuaid on top of that, but when you have guys like…Miller coming in to replace them and doing the job they've done, it's really bailed us out quite a bit.”
“Millsy's just been so confident. He makes smart plays. Nothing is fancy, but everything is efficient. Ninety percent of it is battles along the wall. He’s such a strong individual, and that's what our team's built around.”
So when you're watching the Bruins try to continue their domination of the National Hockey League, keep and eye out for number 86 in black and gold, because he's playing pretty damn well.