Bruins News & Rumors: Miller, Awards & Playoffs

In the inaugural edition of the Boston Bruins News & Rumors article on The Hockey Writers, the topics range from regular season play, to postseason options and the future of a veteran player.

Kevan Miller Still Recovering From Injury

It’s been a really difficult season for Kevan Miller. The veteran defender for the Bruins has only played in three NHL games dating back to February of 2019 and no games during the 2019-20 season due to two fractured kneecaps.

Though Miller isn’t considering retirement right now, he’s also not focusing on his future with the Bruins right now. Instead, he’s focusing more on getting healthy and being able to live his day-to-day life before looking towards a return to the ice.

Kevan Miller Boston Bruins
Kevan Miller, Boston Bruins, Jan. 17, 2019 (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

“First and foremost, I just want to be able to function normally here. That’s step one, and step two is to be able to do some things off the ice that I was able to do before, and then get 100 percent off the ice,” said Miller. “Once I’m able to cross that bridge, then at that point I’ll be able to put the skates back on and be able to perform like I was able to. That’s my hope and my goal. I wake up every morning trying to get to that.”

Miller would mention that he’s grateful for all of the support he’s received throughout this difficult time in his career.

“I’m grateful for all the support my friends, family, teammates, coaching staff and the organization has given me throughout this, it’s been a long haul. As a lot of you guys know, it’s taken a heavy toll mentally and physically…it’s definitely taken a toll. It’s been a long road, but I’m trying to keep things in perspective,” Miller said while in a Zoom call with reporters. “I’m hoping to get back to 100 percent whenever that might be and get back to playing hockey.”

Miller was voted as the Bruins’ nomination for the NHL’s Masterton Trophy by the writers in Boston. Given what he’s been through this season, he was likely a no-brainer in that regard.

Bruins Announce End-of-Season Awards

In more positive news, the Bruins would award some accolades for the regular season to some very deserving players on the team.

The Eddie Shore Award, given annually to the player who demonstrated exceptional hustle and determination throughout the season, was won by 23-year-old defender Brandon Carlo.

Brandon Carlo,Don Sweeney
Boston Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

It’s easy to lose track of how good Carlo is when watching the Bruins play. Whether it’s the Bruins’ top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak stealing the headlines or even the trio of Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara getting most of the acknowledgments on defense, many talented players often fail to get the recognition they deserve in Boston.

This is true of Carlo who was arguably the Bruins’ best defender this year, not missing a beat from a breakout campaign during the 2019 NHL Playoffs last year.

The 6-foot-5, 212-pound Carlo would finish tied for third on the Bruins with 20:29 of ice time per game and even set some career-marks with 15 assists and 19 points in 67 games.

Carlo is one of the better young defenders in the NHL and his work ethic fits the criteria of this award to perfection.

The Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy, awarded for outstanding performance during home games, was awarded to Pastrnak. It should come as no surprise that the Bruins’ star winger took home this award as he would lead the team with 28 goals and 49 points in 35 home games at TD Garden this pat season.

David Pastrnak Boston Bruins
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

He took the award away from his linemate Marchand who had won the Trophy in each of the last three seasons.

The John P. Bucyk Award, given for community contributions, was given to Bergeron this season. Bergeron was at the helm of the Bruins’ Pucks and Paddles events once again this season which benefited the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

He’d also visit the children’s hospital with many of his teammates for Halloween and Christmas and pledged $25,000 to the NAACP-Boston and the Centre Multiethnique de Quebec to help advocate for racial justice and equality.

Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This award comes with a $1,000 sum that Bergeron can donate to the charity of his choice from the Boston Bruins’ Alumni Foundation.

Bruins Could Rest Players During Round-Robin Tournament

Shifting gears from the regular season, the Bruins’ attention is now on the postseason and the round-robin tournament that would precede it.

Though seeding is important and the Bruins would like to retain their first-seed heading into the playoffs, they could look to ease some of their veterans back into play during the round-robin tournament to mitigate injury risk.

Bruce Cassidy Boston Bruins
Bruce Cassidy, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“We absolutely could rest players [in the round-robin],” said head coach Bruce Cassidy on an NBC Sports Boston Zoom call. “The first area we start with, Tuukka [Rask] is our guy.  We’re very confident in [Jaroslav] Halak, but Tuukka is our playoff goaltender and he was going to start Game 1 [of the playoffs] with all things being equal. What does he need?”

Cassidy would continue by talking about the logistics of what would play a role here.

“Do our veterans need all three games to get to the top of their game? Even if they do, should we play them and risk injuries? There’s a lot that goes into it. I think every team is probably going to have a little of the same approach [in the round-robin] and they are going to want to be at their best and healthiest headed into the playoffs.”

Related: BSC’s Bruins’ Mailbag: Studnicka, NHL Playoffs & More

As mentioned, though, seeding is still very important in this scenario. The decision will come down to a balance between playing for position as well as playing for long-term health. Cassidy would state as much in during the Zoom call.

“Would we like to win all three games? Of course, in a perfect world, but I think with all teams there’s going to be some sort of a preseason mentality worked in with how the lineups are constructed every game. But if the [veteran players] want to play every game then I’m going to listen to them. It’s their bodies and they would know best. Then in the last game in the third period we’re going to shut our eyes and hope nobody gets hurt in those situations.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the Bruins, as well as the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers approach this tournament.