Game time is set for 7:00 p.m. ET (NESN, 98.5 The Sports Hub).
The blueliner was back at practice on Monday with no restrictions after a lower-body injury kept him out of Saturday’s game against Detroit and Friday’s practice.
“We’ll see what happens tonight here,” Miller said after participating in Tuesday morning’s pregame skate at TD Garden. “I felt good, so we’ll just wait and see.”
With Miller healthy and Dennis Seidenberg’s recent return from his back injury, the Bruins have eight healthy defensemen available to play, and all vying for time in the lineup.
“I think it’s good competition,” said Miller. “Obviously, having that internal competition, everybody’s going to be focused and playing their best every game, and that’s something that a team can kind of thrive on and use.”
Zach Trotman had slotted into the lineup for Saturday’s 3-1 win over Detroit with Miller out. He has played three of the Bruins’ past four games after being a healthy scratch for 11 straight.
“Just trying to be assertive and play with a little more edge,” Trotman said.
“I think when you look at how long [Trotman] sat out for and how he’s done when he’s played he’s done well, you know — and when you have eight Ds, there’s going to be guys that are going to be going in and out throughout the year,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. “So we shouldn’t make too much of a deal of who’s in and who’s out more than they’re all going to play at some point.”
Miller had no restrictions during Monday and Tuesday's skates and by all accounts, could be playing in tonight’s game paired with his usual partner Zdeno Chara. The rookie has a goal and six assists through 14 games. He also plays an important role on the power play, manning the point.
The other right shots on the roster include Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid, with Chara, Seidenberg and Torey Krug on the left. Joe Morrow is also a left shot. He was the only defenseman to stay on for extra work after the team on Tuesday morning.
The Bruins held an optional skate before facing the Sharks. After an off day Sunday and practice Monday, 17 players hit the ice for a pregame skate while the rest did off-ice work, with some partcipating in a game of two-touch soccer.
The forwards included Ryan Spooner, Loui Eriksson, Tyler Randell, Zac Rinaldo, Joonas Kemppainen, Jimmy Hayes, Frank Vatrano and Brett Connolly, while all of the defensemen hit the ice besides Krug.
Both goaltenders were on the ice, with Tuukka Rask practicing in the home net.
“I really like that idea of it being optional,” said Brad Marchand, who has been known to have that opinion. “I’ve always enjoyed staying off in the morning and saving the energy for at night, for the games. Whatever the team does, then we’re obviously going to go along with it, but I like the idea of having an optional skate.”
Bringing It Home
The Bruins picked up just their second win at home on Saturday with their 3-1 victory over the Red Wings. With their home record at just 2-5-1, three more home games on this season-high five-game homestand give them an opportunity to keep improving.
“We definitely want to really focus on that,” said Marchand. “It’s been disappointing being at home so far this year, and I thought we had a really good game last game, so it’s definitely something we want to build on and continue to work at.”
The Bruins need to draw on their 60-minute, sound defensive effort against Detroit both in their own zone and in the neutral zone. They were able to minimize the Wings’ speed and skill. They were also able to jump out to a 3-0 lead — and keep it.
Right Wing - BOS
Goals: 4 | Assists: 4 | Pts: 8
Shots: 20 | GP: 15
“We’ve got to play the same way,” said Brett Connolly
. “We were a desperate team last game in the first two periods and we need a lot more of that tonight. Obviously they’ve got some good players we’ve got to key on and we’ve got to get on a roll here at home.”
“We need to be ready and have a good start like we have been all year and try and carry that on throughout the game. If something negative happens, don’t lose our cool, just stick with the game plan and we’ll be fine.”
The Bruins could also use a bump in the standings, where they sit at 17 points, two points back of Detroit, Florida and Tampa Bay.
“We’ve got some games at hand and we’ve got to make the most of it,” said Julien. “You win tonight you’ve got the opportunity move up three spots and that’s important. And with Thanksgiving just around the corner we have to take advantage of those games at home and make the most of it.”
Stopping San Jose’s Momentum
This will be the Sharks’ one and only stop at TD Garden this season. The teams split their series last season, with each team winning at home.
While both teams have had struggles at home to start the season, they have been equally strong on the road. The Sharks are 6-3-0 in opponents’ buildings and just began a long road trip out East with back-to-back wins in Detroit and Buffalo.
“I liked the start of our road trip — we kind of needed it, backs against the wall, we’ve been spinning our tires for probably seven or eight games,” said Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer. “We needed to get on some type of roll, get some type of momentum and I think we’ve done that through the first two games. We want to continue that.”
Though Logan Couture remains injured, the Sharks lineup boasts plenty of skill and size, with former Bruins Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, their captain Joe Pavelski, free agent acquisition Joel Ward and the offensive flair of defenseman Brent Burns.
“They’re very skilled and a lot of really good players, but I think we have to more worry about our game and how we’re going to play,” said Marchand. “We have to focus on doing the little things right, and if we do that, we’re going to be a really good team but we can’t get too tied down on what they’re going to be doing. Just really focus on playing from the system and we’ll give ourselves an opportunity to win.”
The Sharks, meanwhile, will be focusing on their own game.
“We’re kind of finding our game with a new coach and all, new system,” said Thornton. “But the last two games, we’re playing good — we’re playing good defensively, and that’s how we’re going to win games.”
There’s never a visit to TD Garden for Thornton where Boston’s first overall pick in 1997 isn’t asked about coming back to the city — even if a decade has passed. He stills knows Bruins’ staff and appreciates his first NHL years with Boston. Any time he has seen Johnny “Chief” Bucyk, there have been lots of smiles exchanged.
“Can you believe it’s been 10 years?” he was asked by a reporter, to which he replied, “Yeah” with a smirk.
“I’ve said it a number of times: It’s always nice. I love the city. I went and saw some friends last night. It’s always nice to come back.”
Reporters thought they would ask Sharks goaltender Martin Jones a similar question. Jones, after all, spent a few hours with Boston after being acquired in the Milan Lucic trade with Los Angeles, before being flipped to San Jose for a 2016 first round pick.
“I don’t really have any memories. It happened pretty quick,” smiled Jones.
Projected Lineup vs. San Jose 11/17
Matt Beleskey—Patrice Bergeron—Brett Connolly
Frank Vatrano—David Krejci—Loui Eriksson
Brad Marchand—Ryan Spooner—Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo—Joonas Kemppainen—Tyler Randell
Zdeno Chara—Colin Miller
Dennis Seidenberg—Kevan Miller
Torey Krug—Adam McQuaid
Projected Starting Goalie: Tuukka Rask // Backup: Jonas Gustavsson
Projected Scratches: Zach Trotman, Joe Morrow
Injured: David Pastrnak (foot)