The big club is now sitting outside of the playoff structure, needing a last-minute surge to qualify for the postseason. Miller, meanwhile, feels rejuvenated after a 19-game stint with the Providence Bruins.
His confidence returned, Miller believes he is ready to contribute to the playoff push.
“I think when you’re playing a lot more, you’re playing a lot of minutes, you're looking to get back in the flow of the game. It was good to get down there and good to get my legs back under me,” said Miller, who was recalled from Providence Tuesday morning.
Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed after this morning’s optional skate that Miller is expected to be in the lineup tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes, with Dennis Seidenberg (lower body) out and Kevan Miller (lower body) a game-time decision.
Julien thought it was important that Colin Miller get regular playing time in Providence, where the 23-year-old tallied 4 goals and 8 assists and was a plus-3.
“I think one of the good things for him, being a young player, is that he got to play regularly,” said Julien.
“He got some of those kinks out of his game. [He’s] a guy that can move the puck well, a guy that can shoot the puck well, skates well, and just at times was a little erratic in our own end.
“He had an opportunity to go down there, play a lot more and try and work on that part of his game.”
Miller agreed that shoring up his defensive game was his biggest priority. And with the Bruins also attempting to tighten things up (they allowed 11 goals combined against St. Louis and Chicago over the weekend), he’ll be trying to keep things simple.
“Obviously [I’m going to] try to move my feet and get the puck up to the forwards, not doing anything out of the ordinary,” said Miller, who in 39 NHL games this season has 15 points, the seventh-highest total among rookie defensemen.
“This is an important week for the guys here. Just looking to help any way I can and hopefully get the guys in the playoffs.”
“Can’t Hold Him Down”
Kevan Miller was back on the ice for the optional morning skate after missing Sunday’s contest against Chicago. He left Friday night’s game against St. Louis following an awkward hit in the corner, but said after Tuesday’s session that he was feeling good.
Julien did say that Miller’s status for tonight’s tilt against Carolina would be a game-time decision.
“After I got evaluated everything was pretty good there,” said Miller. “Obviously it was a weird play, scary hit…it happens but I’m happy to be back.
“You want to be out there with your guys, it’s tough to watch for sure. I’m excited to get back in there.”
Miller brings a strong veteran presence to the lineup and is a player Julien can depend on in high-leverage situations. Julien pointed to Miller’s drive and commitment as reasons for the blue liner’s NHL success.
“I think a lot of it with him is his personality,” said Julien. “He’s such a determined individual, you know? So where he started off to where he is right now – he’s just worked his way into the NHL number one. He was not a superstar in the American League in Providence; he was a steady defenseman but we all know that we can use those kinds of guys here just as much as we can use guys that are, I guess, electrifying in that league.
“He’s come in here, he’s worked hard – believe it or not he’s probably one of the guys that produces some decent offense in the offensive zone from pinching and coming in there and making plays to his shots and all that kind of stuff.
“So he’s actually been a real – I’m not going to say a surprise – but a pleasant addition for us where he’s given us probably even more than we expected from him. But you know it doesn't matter, you can’t hold that guy down.
“I would definitely put him in the old-time players kind of category. You can’t hold him down.”
No Easy Games
Carolina enters the game having been eliminated from postseason contention, but the Bruins know they will have their hands full. It was just over three weeks ago that the Hurricanes came into TD Garden and captured a 3-2 overtime victory.
“We know it’s going to be a good challenge for us,” said Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. “Carolina wants to play spoilers. For us, it’s all about tonight, that’s all we can worry about. It’s in our hands and it’s about putting everything on the line and getting the results.
“They play hard, they play fast, and they have a lot of skill. They’re speed is definitely one of the things that I’ve noticed the most. We have to try to deny that.”
Griffith Assigned to Providence
To make room for Colin Miller
, forward Seth Griffith
was assigned to Providence. Julien pointed to Jimmy Hayes
and Tyler Randell
as the possibilities to replace him in the lineup.
-- Forwards that participated in the optional morning skate: Landon Ferraro, Frank Vatrano, Tyler Randell, Noel Acciari, David Pastrnak, Jimmy Hayes, Chris Kelly, Ryan Spooner, and David Krejci.
-- Defensemen that skated were Kevan Miller, Colin Miller, Zach Trotman, and Joe Morrow. Jonas Gustavsson was the lone goalie on the ice.