Miller to Make NHL Debut, with Seidenberg and McQuaid Sidelined
The 6'2" 210-pound Miller was the last cut after training camp before the Bruins opened the 2013-14 season with a 22-man roster.
"He's a big, strong, solid defenseman," said Head Coach Claude Julien. "Moved the puck fairly well; simple play, and again, probably his strength is his battle along the walls and in front of the net. He’s a big strong individual, so I thought he played a steady game."
"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."
After three years in the organization, this marks the first time Miller has gotten the call.
It came after Seidenberg left the game against the New York Rangers on Tuesday with a lower-body injury. He's currently deemed as day-to-day, though he is able to work out.
"So probably one of those situations that I would probably put it more or less seven days, could be less; from the time of the injury," said Julien.
McQuaid, meanwhile, is progressing in his recovery from a lower-body injury that has kept him out the past five games.
Thursday morning's pregame skate marked the first time that McQuaid skated with the B's since his injury on November 9 against Toronto.
"He’s not quite 100% yet. So, a possibility maybe for next game [on Saturday] but not tonight," said Julien.
"Hope so," said McQuaid, of possibly being ready to go on Saturday against Carolina.
"I’m feeling pretty good. I started skating on Monday; a light skate. It’s been a good progression since then. So it’s just kind of been day-to-day seeing how my body reacts."
"Every day it’s been getting a little bit better and that’s what you hope for; you just hope that there’s no setbacks."
He'll get a better gauge of where he's at when he gets in a full practice with the Bruins and puts himself in game-like situations.
With McQuaid and Seidenberg out, the Bruins' depth on the blueline is being tested. This group is battle-worn, though, and the young defensemen were cultivated well in Providence.
"I don’t anything’s going to change; we still have to play the same way and be ourselves and play consistent and really support each other and talk to each other as much as we can," said Captain Zdeno Chara.
"And that will make it easier obviously. Be ready for whatever is going to be out there. We’re facing a really good team and we just have to stay focused and play our way and really work hard."
"We have a lot of depth in the organization and I’m sure Millsy’s going to step in and do a great job tonight," said McQuaid.
Miller Gets the Call
Last week, on November 15, Miller was celebrating his 26th birthday. The Los Angeles native's family was in town. They turned around right away and caught a red-eye back out here last night to catch his NHL debut.
"Just [have to] be ready in case you get the call. Been waiting down there for a couple years now and just excited for the opportunity," smiled Miller.
"This is my third year and you just have to believe in the process - a lot of guys have been in the same situation, so it’s a great feeling."
Miller has skated in 147 games with the P-Bruins over the past three seasons, after initially signing with Boston in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Vermont. He re-signed with the B's this summer as a restricted free agent.
He was sidelined at the beginning of Providence's season, suffering a concussion in his first game. He's played 12 games since, notching a goal and two assists with 30 penalty minutes.
"I had a good idea that if I just played my game and just paid attention to the little things, I’d be in a good spot," Miller said, after skating with the B's this morning.
"The Bruins thought it would be better for my development to go down and continue to play games rather than to come up here and not really play," he said, of being the last cut after training camp. "I agree with that and I think it worked for the best."
"The Bruins have done a good job as an organization obviously at bringing guys up and developing them. So I patiently waited down there, just trying to be ready."
It may be Miller's first NHL game up with Boston, but he fits in well with the group. His biggest adjustment will be transitioning to the speed of the NHL game quickly.
But he's a strong, stay-at-home time who has said he likes to play a Brooks Orpik style game. His strength will help immensely (he's the only Bruin who matched Zdeno Chara's pull-ups count at training camp).
"I think in Millsy’s case, he got enough exhibition games and I think he feels fairly comfortable here. Just watching him this morning in practice, he knew our drills and seemed to be comfortable in execution and stuff like that," said Julien. "He’s a pretty confident guy; I think he’ll be fine."
"Yeah I feel comfortable with the guys and I got to go to Vermont with the guys too [on the team-building trip] so I got to know some of the guys that I hadn’t known before," said Miller. "And then Caron, and Krug and Bart, all the guys that made me feel at home."
The last two seasons in Providence, Miller was paired often with Matt Bartkowski as their top defense pairing.
Miller will likely be paired with Torey Krug against St. Louis, but that doesn't stop Bartkowski from signing his praises.
"I love playing with him; he’s a really good defenseman," said Bartkowski. "He’s pretty steady, he’s not going to hang you out to dry. So I’m excited to see him here."
"It’s about giving them the confidence to just go out there and play.," said Julien. "If you make them nervous, if you put restrictions on them, they go out there and they play on their heels."
"You just have to let them go out there and play their game."
Boston Projected Lineup
Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Loui Eriksson
Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara-Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski-Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Starter: Tuukka Rask
Backup: Chad Johnson