|Adam McQuaid thinks he and Kevan Miller can both improve||08.08.16 at 8:35 pm ET|
Last summer, the Bruins signed Adam McQuaid to a four-year extension and seemingly left the writing on the wall for Kevan Miller. Both right-shot third-pairing defensemen with similar strengths (read: toughness) and less than a year apart in age, it seemed unlikely both players would get new contracts.
Then the Bruins signed Miller to a four-year deal a year later. The move reflected how desperate the Bruins were to stop the bleeding on defense, even if it meant having something of a positional redundancy signed up for a combined $5.25 million against the cap.
Of course, the signing could have meant that they didn’t intend on keeping both players, so when the Bruins signed the 28-year-old Miller in May, it was natural to wonder if perhaps McQuaid would be on the move. Though he skated in 64 games last season (his most since the 2011-12 season), McQuaid wouldn’t figure to fetch much in a trade because of his cap hit ($2.75 million), but the team could have opted to move his money and spend it elsewhere. Speaking at Shawn Thornton’s golf tournament Monday, McQuaid said he didn’t take the Miller signing as an indication he might be moved.
“Those are the questions that everyone asks and people are wondering about, but at the same time, I think there’s a chance for both of us to continue to improve our game and hopefully be more well-rounded and grab the opportunity to play bigger minutes against tougher opposition and stuff,” McQuaid said.
As for his reaction to the contract itself, McQuaid seemingly felt differently than the many who assumed the Bruins might have let Miller walk in free agency.
“I’m not really surprised by anything,” McQuaid said. “You’re not sure how things will play out in different ways, but I wasn’t surprised. I think in my opinion, Millsy’s underrated in a lot of ways. [He’s] a guy that continues to improve and a guy that you appreciate having on your team.”
Though McQuaid has two inches on Miller, both weigh around 210 pounds and rely on physicality as stay-at-home defensemen. Injuries to one or the other has limited the time the Bruins have had to build their six-man D group relying on both being in, but last season saw both players both dress in at least three quarters of the season’s games (Miller played in 71).
As the following usage chart from Corsica Hockey indicates, the Bruins gave Miller and McQuaid similar assignments regarding their quality of competition and zone starts, though Miller fared better in terms of puck possession.
Both players spent most of their even-strength minutes with Torey Krug and had Zdeno Chara as their second-most common partners. Miller had better possession metrics with both Krug and Chara than McQuaid did, though the Bruins did better in terms of goals for per 60 when Chara was paired with McQuaid rather than Miller.
Of course, the goal should not be to have either player paired with Chara. Given the Bruins’ current roster, it would appear that either McQuaid, Miller or Colin Miller will be heading into the season. None of those situations are ideal, as the Bruins need a budding top defenseman to pair with Chara as Boston’s captain continues to regress. Right now they don’t have that. What they do have is a lot of OK right-shot defensemen.
|Bruins, Kevan Miller agree to 4-year, $10 million deal||05.24.16 at 2:55 pm ET|
The Bruins and Kevan Miller have agreed to a four-year, $10 million deal, according to his agent Peter Fish.
The 28-year-old defenseman played 71 games for the Bruins this past season, his third in the NHL, and posted a career-high 18 points (5 goals, 13 assists) while playing 19:04 per game.
Miller was set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. He was coming off a two-year, $1.6 million contract.
The new contract for Miller does not have any no-trade rights.
The Bruins also re-upped restricted free agent Seth Griffith with a one-year, two-way deal. The right wing was coming off his entry level contract.
|Update: Kevan Miller remains out as Bruins, John-Michael Liles not suspended||03.10.16 at 11:53 am ET|
Kevan Miller participated in Thursday’s morning skate, but he will miss his third straight game when the Bruins host the Hurricanes at TD Garden.
The veteran defenseman has been out with an upper-body injury since leaving last Saturday’s game against the Capitals following a second-period hit from behind from Alexander Ovechkin.
Speaking after the skate, Claude Julien said that Miller remains day-to-day and is “obviously doing well.” He noted that Miller could be a possibility for Saturday’s game against the Islanders.
Miller, who appeared to injure his right shoulder on the hit, went to the hospital after the play. His season was ended by right shoulder surgery last year, so it would have been understandable if he feared a worse outcome than he experienced when he left the game.
“It wasn’t a very pleasant couple of minutes there,” Miller admitted. “It happens.”
With Miller out, Joe Morrow is expected to play his second straight game. Zach Trotman played Monday in Boston’s first game without Miller before the B’s brought Morrow into the lineup.
After a phone hearing with the league, John-Michael Liles was not given supplemental discipline for his hit to the head of Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. Liles was not penalized on the play, which saw him extend his arm and hit Kucherov at the Bruins’ blueline during Boston’s 1-0 win over the Bolts.
Assuming the Bruins play Morrow, they will have five left-shot defensemen and only one righty (Adam McQuaid) in the lineup. Liles played the right side with Zdeno Chara Tuesday against the Lightning, while Dennis Seidenberg played the right side with Morrow.
“Both those guys can play their off-sides,” Julien said. “We’ve seen it with Seids and John-Michael has been in the same situation before. He’s played both sides, so that’s been helpful, there’s no doubt. I thought they did a great job last game of handling that and giving us that stability here of being able to have certain players in the lineup and playing with different partners.”
|Bruins make it ‘special’ night for Milan Lucic, allow most shots in 51 years||02.10.16 at 1:47 am ET|
The most goals allowed by the Bruins in a game since 2008.
The most shots allowed in a game by the Bruins since 1965.
That’s 1965, 51 years ago, the year civil rights demonstrators in Selma, Alabama, were attacked by state troopers. Lyndon Johnson was president. Johnny Bucyk was in his prime at 29 years of age.
To say that former Bruins winger Milan Lucic and L.A. did a number on Boston Tuesday night at TD Garden in a 9-2 Kings victory would be quite the understatement.
“You’re here win a game, you know?” Lucic said with a chuckle when asked if it felt awkward to beat his former mates so decisively. “You win by one, you win by seven it doesn’t matter, a win’s a win. I guess you can’t feel too bad. You come in here and try to get those bragging rights and have it over your former teammates. It was a full team effort from the net out and I was glad to get that win.”
|Kevan Miller is the exception to the Zdeno Chara rule||01.06.16 at 11:16 pm ET|
If and when Claude Julien writes a book on how to make still-developing defensemen good, Zdeno Chara will write the foreword, which will consist of “Play them with me,” and then the book will be over.
Chara has had some great partners over the years with the Bruins — Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton come to mind — but it’s no secret that Julien can take any player who is otherwise OK and make him very good by skating him with Chara. The reason, quite simply, is because Chara is such a dominant player that skating with him more than makes up for the difficult competition that comes with playing on a top pairing.
This has been the case for a number of players over the years. Among them: Zach Trotman, Torey Krug and Steven Kampfer.
Not Kevan Miller.
Miller, mysteriously, is the exception to this rule.
“But Deej!” you say. “That just means that Kevan Miller stinks!”
Not necessarily, and that’s rude. The 28-year-old Miller, who is still just 119 games into his NHL career, is an OK third-pairing defenseman, as some of the aforementioned names were when they were put on pairings with Chara. Yet instead of getting better when playing with Chara, this season has suggested that Miller gets worse when paired with the (somehow only) one-time Norris winner.
Miller’s most common partner this season has been Torey Krug, with whom he’s played 160:24 in 5-on-5. His next most-common partner has been Chara, with whom he’s played 120:22 of 5-on-5 time. Playing with Krug often draws so-so competition — Krug has had the fifth-toughest quality of competition among Bruins defensemen this season, using time on ice of competition as a barometer — whereas playing with Chara draws the other team’s best players, as evidenced by Chara having the hardest quality of competition.
Miller has been fine with Krug. The Bruins have outscored opponents when the two have played together — 2.62 goals for per 60; 1.12 goals against per 60 for a goals for percentage of 70. When Chara and Miller are together, the Bruins are outscored — 2.49 goals for per 60 and 4.49 goals against per 60, making for a rather horrifying 35.7 goals for percentage.
That’s the comparison of Miller with Chara versus Miller with Krug. The numbers of Miller simply with and without Chara are even more telling:
“But Deej!” you say. “Maybe Miller’s worse with Chara than players in seasons past because Chara has gotten worse! Chara just looks slower out there!”
No. Chara is still having the Chara effect on his partners. Including Kevan Miller, five defensemen have played at least 20 minutes of 5-on-5 with Chara this season. The four not named Kevan Miller all have better numbers with Chara than without him. All four — Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman — have better goals for percentages with Chara, while Trotman’s minor bump in Corsi For percentage without Chara (48.8 with him, 49.0 without him) is the only trace of a player’s possession numbers not dipping when not with Chara.
Whether it’s the quality of competition that comes with skating as Chara’s partner or the fact that the duo lacks mobility, the Chara-Kevan Miller pairing has not been good. While that’s not reason enough to write off Miller altogether, it’s reason enough for Julien to separate the pairing, which he used to begin Tuesday night’s game against the Capitals.
If McQuaid is to miss any stretch of time, the numbers indicate that Julien would be wise to not play Miller to Chara’s right, where McQuaid has often played this season. The Bruins have other options — Trotman, Colin Miller — and Kevan Miller figures to be better off with Krug.
|Lineup questions await Bruins upon Kevan Miller’s return||11.29.15 at 5:27 pm ET|
Kevan Miller is practicing with the Bruins and Max Talbot has reportedly been placed on waivers again to open up a roster spot, so it shouldn’t be long before Miller is cleared to return from a concussion that’s kept him out of the last five games. The question will be whether a spot in the lineup will be waiting for him.
Claude Julien won’t have an easy time deciding that in the coming days. The B’s have won every game since Miller went down, but Julien displayed unwavering faith in the 28-year-old defenseman leading up to Miller’s injury. Furthermore, the Bruins are still a work in progress in their own zone, meaning the B’s should not have their six blueliners set in stone at this point.
If Miller were to re-enter the lineup, he would likely do so at the expense of a fellow righty in either Zach Trotman or Colin Miller. The latter has struggled in his own zone, with unforced icings costing the Bruins at points, but the pros of Colin Miller’s offensive game (he factored heavily into both the game-tying and game-winning goals last week in Detroit) might outweigh the cons of his defensive game in the eyes of Bruins coaches.
Julien said the Bruins are taking it day-to-day with Kevan Miller. Asked if Miller would be a sure-thing to play once he’s ready, Julien scoffed.
“Honestly, which coach is going to tell you three days before whether this guy’s a lock [to play]?” Julien asked. “I think it’s a matter of looking at the situation when it comes to that. I don’t think anybody should be a lock in. I think you’ve got your key players that you know are there every night, but there’s also some competition there. Our group back there has done a pretty decent job, so before I make that decision I’ll certainly take a little bit more time to think about it.”
Miller became something of a scapegoat for fans unhappy with the Bruins’ mediocre start to the season. Difficulty closing gaps allowed shooters too much space, resulting in goals against. Given that Miller does not bring much offensively, the bruising defender’s issues in his own zone led to questions of whether he was worth keeping in the lineup if he wasn’t contributing defensively.
One would assume that the penalty kill was a big reason as to why Miller kept his spot earlier in the season. With the B’s missing Dennis Seidenberg for the first 14 games of the season, Miller was relied on heavily for big minutes on the PK. Miller is second to only Zdeno Chara with 3:21 of shorthanded time on ice per game; he and Chara (3:45 shorthanded TOI per night) are the only Bruins to average three minutes or more on the penalty kill this season.
Yet the Bruins haven’t really missed Miller on the PK since he went out of the lineup. The Bruins, who ranked worst in the NHL in penalty kill efficiency at the time that Miller went out of the lineup, have killed off 15 of their opponents’ 16 power plays over the last five games.
“Seids is in there, Zee is in there,” Julien said after Friday’s win. “Those two guys on the left side have been good. Trots has been pretty good on the right and [Adam] McQuaid. I thought we had enough bodies for the penalty kill to do their job and they’ve proven us right so far.”
The Bruins next play on Wednesday, when they’ll face the lowly Oilers in Edmonton. The Bruins are hardly desperate to get Miller back, but then again the revolving door on defense has yet to slow for the B’s this season. They might be wise to stick with the kids they’ve got in there for now.
|Kevan Miller misses Bruins practice with upper-body injury||11.18.15 at 11:15 am ET|
WILMINGTON — Kevan Miller was missing from Wednesday’s practice as the Bruins looked to regroup from a disappointing 5-4 loss to the Sharks on Tuesday.
Miller, who has played in every game this season, went to the trainers’ room during the third period of Tuesday’s game and did not play the final 10:44.
“Right now, all I can tell you is he’s got an upper-body injury,” Claude Julien said after the practice. “I don’t know the details of what’s come up with the assessment. We’ll try and give you guys some more when we do. Right now I don’t have more than to tell you it’s upper-body.”
With the exception of David Pastrnak, who remains out with a foot injury and is still on crutches, all other players were on the ice for Wednesday’s practice. Julien stuck with the line of Patrice Bergeron between Brad Marchand and Jimmy Hayes, shuffled the third line and left the other two the same as they’ve been in recent games. The lines and defensive pairings Wednesday were as follows:
The 8-8-1 Bruins will host the Wild Wednesday at TD Garden.