SCOC Rating: 5
Reader Rating: 6.8
It was Kevan Miller’s final NHL season, and in a way, it perfectly encapsulated the latter years of his NHL career: he played decent hockey, played tough, and was ultimately derailed by injuries.
It goes without saying that Miller was dealt a rough hand health-wise over the course of his time with the Bruins.
Injuries limited him to just 28 regular season games last season and 39 games in 2018-2019; he missed the entirety of the season in between with horrific knee injuries.
Over the course of his career, Miller earned admirers for his style of play: rugged, not flashy, willing to hit, willing to fight.
He was a tough guy, not in the traditional fighter mold but in the “came back effectively from breaking the same kneecap different ways” mold.
When he wasn’t injured, Miller was an average, but effective, middle-to-bottom pair defenseman.
In previous years, he drew the ire of some Bruins fans due to really notable gaffes (that kneeling in the crease goal against Washington comes to mind); however, he tightened up various aspects of his game in recent years and became a fairly dependable defenseman when he was healthy.
Miller was never going to win a Norris, nor was he going to score a highlight-reel goal on an end-to-end rush.
He was more of a stay-at-home type: not flashy, but decent enough.
The disparity in ratings here likely reflects what different people value in a Bruins defenseman: that rugged blue-collar player or the more dynamic puck-moving type.
I don’t think Miller was bad this season, and think he deserves a lot of credit for returning to a high level after such a tough time with injuries.
Overall, I thought he was average to slightly above (given the injuries), so I guess both the writers and readers are relatively in line here.
The sad part about Miller’s season is how it ended: with a cheapshot by a guy who was playing like he was looking to take someone out.
Say what you will about Miller’s game, but he was certainly a stand-up player: he’d fight, but wasn’t one who’d take cheapshots or runs at defenseless players.
To have his season (and, ultimately, career) ended by a flying punch to the head is a shame, especially given the injuries he overcame.
It’s hard not to look at that end as a shame for the Bruins as a whole, too: while it’s unlikely the Bruins would have been able to overcome Brandon Carlo’s injury for long, you could make a pretty decent argument that the Islanders series goes differently with Miller in the mix.
Alas, it’s just another in a line of “what ifs” that followed Miller as a pro. You can’t help but wonder how differently things would have gone if his health had held up.
As a whole, however, it’s easy to see why Bruins fans liked Miller: he played the game the way Bruins fans like it played, and played it well when he was able.