Boston Bruins Kevan Miller and Blueliners Struggle

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Boston Bruins: ‘In the Box’ Reviews Worst of B’s Week, Kevan Miller Cracks List

As the Boston Bruins go through a rollercoaster season featuring a lineup peppered with a mix of several new and young additions, a few core players and some aging veterans, they naturally are having highs and lows on the way to adjusting from their traditional heavy defensive game to a lighter, rapidly changing NHL that highlights speed and skill.

In that vein, I came up with an idea for a new Causeway Crowd feature called ‘In the Box’.  This will be the opposite of our ‘Three Stars of the Week’ piece, but we hope they will complement each other well since it’s important to point out the team’s struggles and challenges, too.

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In the Box will feature the worst Bruins players of the week, and sometimes it may not always be three that make this list but just a couple or even none if it’s a really good week.  The penalty box analogy comes in because each player on the list will also be assessed a figurative 10-minute misconduct, major or minor penalty – depending on the degree to which they hurt the team that week. The most egregious performances would be assessed a ‘game misconduct’ and ‘suspension’.

It’s important to note that although the feature will focus largely on players, B’s management, ownership and coaches will not be immune. If the Bruins make a particularly poor trade, draft decision or lineup choice that hurts the team, the brass can also be included on the list during a given week.

So without further ado, here is the inaugural ‘In the Box’ for the games of the past week:

In an up and down week that is becoming typical of the team’s growing pains, the Bruins got blasted out of their own building 9-2 by the Kings on Tuesday but then bounced back with a pair of solid wins against the Jets and Wild before ending with another tough defensive showing in a 6-5 loss in Detroit Sunday.

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  • Kevan Miller receives a major for a couple of key turnovers in his own end that led to Kings’ goals and were pivotal in setting an ugly tone for a game in which the entire B’s defense struggled mightily with coverage and getting the puck out cleanly. The Bruins were also dominated on the possession front by a Kings team that leads the league in Corsi (all goals, shots and missed/blocked shots on offense versus against), facing the most shots (57) in 50 years. Miller had a couple more turnovers throughout the week and while he does well in physical aspects of the game – pacing the defense with 116 hits and 91 blocked shots for the season – he now has 25 giveaways and only a 43.1% Corsi. In fairness, other B’s defenders have also struggled with possession, breaking the puck out and keeping it in the offensive zone this year.  In particular Zdeno Chara has the lowest Corsi of his Bruins career at 46.6% and is also among the league leaders in giveaways with 66, while Dennis Seidenberg is at a career-low 42.4% Corsi.

    The Bruins powerplay gets a minor for going only 1 of 14 on the week, and has struggled lately after leading the league for much of the first half of the season. Patrice Bergeron’s absence in the Minnesota and Detroit games hurt, but the B’s man advantage generally doesn’t seem to have the fire, zip or confidence from earlier in the season and has quickly dropped to fourth in the NHL.

    Lastly, Boston’s management and scouting staff receive a minor for passing on forward Kyle Connor in last June’s draft.  TSN put out a list last week of the Top 50 prospects with NHL affiliations and Zachary Senyshyn was the lone Bruin to make the cut at number 46. Meanwhile the 6’1” Connor who can play any forward position came in at number 5, as he lights up the NCAA with Jack Eichel-like numbers pacing the University of Michigan with a whopping 22 goals and 48 points in just 27 games so far this season to go with a +30 rating.  

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    With blazing speed, elite skill and creativity that make him a constant threat to both score and set up goals as well as a high compete level and great three-zone game, Connor was ranked from 13th overall to 5th on all major pre-draft boards and should have been a no-brain selection for the B’s with at least one of their number 13-15 first round 2015 picks.

    The B’s instead went off the board on at least two of the picks, and arguably all three as even their top draftee Jakub Zboril was ranked in the 20s on a few boards. While it’s fine that the B’s wanted to take a gamble with one of the picks if they believed strongly enough about it, and at least in the case of number 15 selection Senyshyn it seems to be paying off as he has taken off in the OHL with 33 goals in 52 games this year, it would be nice to see Boston snag a game-changing prospect of Connor’s caliber in upcoming drafts rather than take a pass.

    Given how poorly the B’s drafted over the last several years, the concern in seeing news like this is that Boston may still be continuing to miss out on the crème of the hockey crop. Although the Bruins made some good value selections in subsequent rounds and improved their prospect pool with a ‘decent’ overall 2015 draft, it could have potentially been excellent and added an exciting, elite level talent the team sorely lacks.