Bruins not treating Kevan Miller with AHL gloves
|12.03.13 at 2:21 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins are seeing more than Kevan Miller than they probably expected, but they won’t hide him.
Miller is back with the Bruins on an emergency basis given the uncertainty surrounding the status of Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid. He played three games for the B’s last month, the first of his NHL career, and it was evident in his time with the NHL team that they weren’t afraid to play him regularly — which is no sure thing when players are called up due to injury.
The 26-year-old averaged 17:27 of ice time per game in his three-game stint while McQuaid and Dennis Seidenberg were out with injuries. That’s a far cry from the five-to-10-minute nights callups can expect when pinch-hitting on veteran teams. After all, a younger Matt Bartkowski had a couple of sub-five-minute nights over the years before establishing himself with the B’s.
With Miller, 26, the Bruins had no hesitation in using him often. He logged more minutes than Krug in two of his three games, and Claude Julien trusted him enough in his third NHL game that he played him with Zdeno Chara against the Penguins when Pittsburgh had an extra attacker. The Penguins scored on that shift, and though it was his last shift during his stint in Boston given that the B’s won on the second shift of overtime and McQuaid got healthy, Miller still takes it as a positive experience.
“It was good,” Miller said Tuesday. “It shows the organization has some trust in you, which is good. It’s obviously good for me as a confidence-booster.”
Miller was paired with Bartkowski, his former AHL defense partner, in practice Tuesday. If McQuaid and Krug are both out, Bartkowski and Miller with likely serve as the team’s third defensive pairing.
The Bruins have had Miller in their system since signing him as an undrafted free agent out of UVM late in the 2010-11 season. He’s put his AHL time in, though it’s hard for him to be a realistic candidate for full-time work in Boston given the team’s surplus of blueliners. That doesn’t mean the Bruins don’t think highly of him, and that showed the last time he was up.
“We’re a group of people that we don’t care where you’re drafted, whether you’re a first-rounder, whether you’re a free agent or whatever,” Julien said. “If you are deserving of playing on that night, if you’re deserving of a call-up, you’re going to get it. If you’re deserving of getting more ice time, you’re going to get it. It all revolves around your play.
“There are so many things that have happened in our game, from guys being free agents to probably becoming Hall of Famers to all kinds of things. We don’t judge individuals by where they’re drafted more than by their play. He’s played well enough to earn that ice time when he’s had to.”