This season’s Boston Bruins team nor veteran defenseman Kevan Miller are any strangers to injury. The Bruins have dealt with mass amounts of man-games lost this year, including from Miller, who had missed 26 games this season already, split between two separate 13-game injuries. As such, it was hardly a surprise when head coach Bruce Cassidy mentioned today that what was initially considered a routine minor injury for Miller has proven to be anything but. Following what Cassidy called “bad news on an MRI”, Miller is considered “week-to-week” with an upper-body injury.
Miller has already missed three games on this third injury stint of the year, taking his total games sidelined to 29 versus just 36 played. The rugged defenseman is not afraid to put his body in harm’s way, whether that’s blocking shots or taking a hit to make a play. While that’s part of what endears him to his teammates and coaches, it also lands him on the IR more often than he would like. This situation is no different, as Miller took a puck up high against the Vegas Golden Knights and left the game early and has not appeared for the Bruins since. All three of his injuries this season have come while in the shooting lane, while this is the second season in a row that Miller has been injured while visiting the Golden Knights. Even in his injuries the dependable defender is consistent.
Even having missed close to half of the season so far, Miller still leads Boston in blocked shots, showing how adept he is at the task but also why it has so frequently caused him harm. He is also second only to Charlie McAvoy in hits per game among Bruins defenseman, so that element of his game will also be missed down the stretch. However, depth on the blue line is not an area of concern for Boston this season. John Moore, who only recently lost his starting job once the Bruins were at full health on the back end, has taken over Miller’s role seamlessly. Steven Kampfer, who the team has not needed to play in the calendar year, is another veteran option and a right-shot should Cassidy wish to balance out his blue line with Miller out. There’s also Urho Vaakanainen, Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, and Connor Clifton, who are all highly regarded and have logged NHL minutes already this season. All Boston defenseman may have to ramp up their aggressiveness in Miller’s absence, but otherwise the team should be fine. Even with Miller out for potentially weeks longer, the Bruins should be capable of dealing with another injury or allowing for rest down the stretch. Of course, the hope is Miller is ready to return before the postseason begins.
The Bruins also issued some good news today, announcing that key bottom-six forward Sean Kuraly should be ready to go for Thursday night’s game. Kuraly missed Boston’s last game and will presumably miss their next on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes with a concussion, but is on the road to recovery. As for star forward David Pastrnak, Cassidy simply said that he is on schedule in his rehab. This comes after the two week re-evaluation promised last month after he underwent thumb surgery, but stops short of issuing a new timeline. Seeing as the Bruins have not lost in regulation since January 10th, the team is under no pressure to rush Pastrnak – or Miller – back early.