WILMINGTON — Call it being overused, call it a player still finding his footing after missing half of last season, but Kevan Miller hasn’€™t gotten off to the start he’d hoped for this season.

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Friday that Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog has been suspended two games for his hit to the head of Bruins forward Brad Marchand in Thursday’s game.

The NHL Department of Player Safety announced Friday that Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog has been suspended two games for his hit to the head of Bruins forward Brad Marchand in Thursday’s game.

Marchand, who got up after Landeskog hit him in the head with his shoulder, sucker-punched Landeskog following the hit. Marchand was given a $5,000 fine for the incident.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

The Bruins are 1-5-1 at home this season. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)WILMINGTON — The Bruins dressing room at TD Garden must be an interesting place at around 7:45 p.m. on game nights. 

Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller

WILMINGTON — Call it being overused, call it a player still finding his footing after missing half of last season, but Kevan Miller hasn’€™t gotten off to the start for which he’d hoped.

Miller has played in each of the Bruins’€™ first 15 games after missing the last 26 games of last season due to shoulder surgery. Miller, whose shoulder also kept him out for a stretch earlier in the season, hasn’€™t had a particularly pleasant return to game action. Used frequently as Zdeno Chara‘€™s partner, the 27-year-old has struggled both with the puck and without it, occasionally leaving shooters too much space as they enter the offensive zone. Thursday night’€™s game saw him turn in a costly turnover when he coughed the puck up in the defensive zone, leading to a Colorado goal.

“It’€™s a work in progress. You want to get better as you go,” Miller said of his start to the season. “This is my third year, but this is 100-something games. I’€™m trying to get better every game. There’€™s going to be ups, there’€™s going to be downs and we’€™re going to learn from that, but you want to make sure you’€™re consistent every night. I need to be better.”

Undoubtedly factoring into Miller’€™s struggles is the fact that he’€™s been used in a bigger role this season, something that perhaps could change once Dennis Seidenberg is up to speed. Miller has been given 20:21 of ice time per night, up over two minutes from last season’€™s 18:02 average.

Miller has also had much tougher zone starts than in either of his previous two seasons, as shown in this war-on-ice usage chart showing each of Miller’€™s three NHL seasons.

miller usage 2
When asked about Miller, Claude Julien‘€™s words sounded like they could have been applied to many of his defensemen, as Miller is certainly not alone in making costly errors.

“Right now, it’€™s not about how much leeway we give players,” he said. “It’€™s about how accountable you want to be as a player. You’€™ve got to work through those kind of things. You’€™ve got to minimize it. If you’€™ve been injured, and you don’€™t think your game is at its best, let’€™s keep it simple. Let’€™s do the right things here and try and make the right decisions.

“Again, it’€™s puck management. It doesn’€™t have to be complicated. It just has to be a simple game, and a lot of times, less is more. That’€™s what we have to understand.”

Now that Seidenberg is back in the lineup, the Bruins could view Miller as a potential option to spent the occasional game in the press box. Joe Morrow has been a healthy scratch the last three games, while Zach Trotman has sat in 12 of 15 games this season.

Miller still provides value, however, as he can kill penalties and be used on the left side in a pinch. He’€™ll just need better games ahead of him if he wants to solidify his spot.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

In terms of this season’€™s monetary compensation rankings, the Bruins got their number-two defenseman back from injury on Thursday night.

And while Dennis Seidenberg wasn’€™t on the ice nor responsible for any of the three Colorado goals scored in a 3-2 come-from-ahead loss to the Avalanche, neither did Seidenberg’€™s mere presence in the lineup solve Boston’€™s biggest woes so far in 2015-16: erratic team play and a penchant for blown leads, particularly on home ice at TD Garden.

“We had a good start like we have had in the past,”€ said Seidenberg, back on the ice after missing the season’€™s first 14-games due to back surgery. “€œA lot of games, actually. We just didn’€™t follow up, we kind of lost our game, getting pucks deep and moving our feet. They took it to us. They scored two goals in that first [period] coming back, and then we were just kind of flat it seemed like and just couldn’€™t get it back on track putting pressure on their net.”

If that game analysis sounds familiar to you, you’€™re not alone. Head coach Claude Julien has heard it and seen it, too.

“Same old, same old I guess,”€ said Julien. “€œWe were off to a good start again and you get a 2-0 lead. Instead of continuing to play your game you’€™re starting to see long passes that end up in icing, you saw some turnovers at the blue line. We’€™re a little stubborn right now respecting our game plan the whole game.”

Julien continued: “You’€™re so proud of your team one night because they come in and play hard and you win hockey games and you tell yourself this is the identity of our team. This is how we’€™ve got to play. And then the next night it’€™s not there. Not every night’€™s going to be perfect, some nights you’€™ve got to grind it out a little bit more and this is what we should’€™ve done tonight, [but] we didn’€™t seem to be in sync.”

Perhaps when Seidenberg can ascend to playing peak minutes, that synchronicity will come. Without his having the benefit of a training camp, Julien monitored Seidenberg’€™s minutes on Thursday by giving the 34-year-old just 15:34 of ice time, some nine-minutes less than Zdeno Chara. But by several accounts, Seidenberg looked good enough to take on more action, and quickly.

“He did well for a guy that hadn’€™t played all this year,”€ Julien said matter-of-factly.

“€œHe seemed to be really solid back there,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask. “It’€™s never easy to come back after a long period of time, but he looked good tonight.”

Even Seidenberg seemed pleased with his 2015-16 debut.

“€œIt felt alright,”€ Seidenberg said, after noting before the game he was concerned about his leg strength from the places he could feel nerve pain prior to his back surgery. “Obviously there’€™s more work to be done. But I think it was a good first step and it’€™s going to get better for sure. It’€™s been a long time, I was very nervous coming into the game but very excited as well. It was a good feeling.”

With only 38-goals to his name over a 12-year NHL career, Seidenberg’€™s return won’€™t be a direct game changer in terms of providing goals. But it might calm down the Bruins back end, and help their breakouts become more efficient.

“€œIt’€™s the puck movement from our back end,” Julien said when asked about where team improvement is needed. “€œSometimes it is there, and tonight it wasn’€™t. We’€™ve got to be a little bit better with that. Consistency in our game. You see it one night, you don’€™t the next.”€

“€œMy role is to play my brand of hockey, which is playing solid defensively and penalty killing,”€ Seidenberg said. “€œJust making the simple play, playing physical hockey and winning my battles. That’€™s what I have to focus on.”

Blog Author: 
Ken Laird

Brad Marchand chose his words carefully after Thursday night’€™s loss to the Avalanche. He was visibly angry — perhaps because the Bruins had just turned in yet another bad performance at home, but more than likely because he took an unnecessary hit to the head in the second period.

Marchand was the recipient of a hit to the head from Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, who flew into the Colorado zone and caught Marchand in the head with his shoulder after the veteran Bruins winger had released a shot from above the left circle. Though Marchand took a few seconds to get up, he promptly skated to an ongoing scrum and delivered a sucker-punch to Landeskog’€™s mouth. Landeskog, who was assessed a match penalty for his hit, automatically has a hearing with Department of Player Safety. Marchand reportedly does as well.

“I tried to let up and then I tried to skate up and apologize and tell him I didn’€™t mean to come across and he ‘€” obviously he wasn’€™t hurt, with that sucker punch,” Landeskog said after the game. “I’€™m happy he didn’€™t get hurt. I feel like the principal point of contact was shoulder, and like I said I’€™m happy he didn’€™t get hurt.”

Marchand was far more brief when asked about the play, delivering mostly short answers. He did note that he doesn’€™t consider Landeskog a dirty player, but he said the fact that he was recently concussed ‘€” he missed two games last month after suffering a head injury against the Canadiens in the second game of the season ‘€” added to his frustration.

“Any time you get hit in the head, you’€™re a little concerned,” Marchand said. “Especially [considering] I got a concussion a couple weeks back, so I was definitely nervous, but I’€™m happy I’€™m OK.”

The Bruins should consider this a major bullet dodged. While the Bruins still sit near the top of the league in goals per game (third after Thursday’s game), their scoring has been down drastically of late. After scoring at least five goals four times over the first eight games of the season, the team’s scoring has gradually dipped. The B’s are currently amidst their quietest offensive stretch of the season, as they’ve scored two goals or less in four straight games. Things would look even more grim offensively without Marchand, plus they’d be without another penalty-killer after already losing Chris Kelly.

So all things considered, the fact that Marchand didn’t miss any time aside from serving his penalty for roughing was a major positive.

The second overall pick in the 2011 draft, Landeskog does not have a reputation for delivering hits in his five-year career. Asked if he agreed with the call on the ice — a match penalty for an illegal check to the head — Landeskog pleaded his case a little more.

“You can argue either way, I think,” Landeskog said. “The video shows the principal point of contact was shoulder, and I even tried to apologize. There was no intent to injure and I’€™m happy he didn’€™t get hurt.”

If anyone is going to be suspended for Thursday’€™s incident, it figures to be Landeskog. Marchand falls under the category of being a repeat-offender (he was suspended two games in January for slew-footing Rangers forward Derick Brassard last season), repeat-offender status only applies to punishment, not to whether a player is disciplined.

Landeskog obviously has the track record on his side, but the fact is he came flying at a player from a ways away and hit him in the head. The speed of the game means that players who aren’€™t necessarily dirty are prone to deliver the occasional dirty hit. Remember: Squeaky-clean Daniel Paille did this once upon a time:

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean
DJ Bean and Ken Laird discuss Boson's Thursday night's 3-2 loss to Colorado on the ice at TD Garden, as they fall to 1-5- at home on the season.

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[0:04:50] ... a coincidence or is there a we get out of our element Claude Julien talked dug up respecting our game and wonder if they do free will little bit when they get a leader when they ...
[0:05:52] ... out so they've figured out. Did you see Saturday. CNN Saturday night Detroit Red Wings in town this bruins' post game report. As all our post game fight gas available WEEI dot comes following every b.s game ...

Half a period does not a game make. Speaking of which, the Bruins lost.

Half a period does not a game make. Speaking of which, the Bruins lost.

With goals from Zdeno Chara and Ryan Spooner in the first 5:51 of the night Thursday, the Bruins appeared well on their way to blowing out the struggling Avalanche at TD Garden. That would prove to be the extent of their scoring on the night, however, and Colorado’€™s pushback was enough to net them the game’€™s next three goals and a 3-2 victory over the B’€™s.

The Bruins’€™ biggest blown opportunity of the night came in the second period, when the Bruins had a three-minute power play as a result of a Colorado major penalty and Boston minor penalty. Spooner’€™s first-period goal came on the power play, extending the B’€™s streak of games with a power play goal to eight games.

The Bruins have now lost three of their last four games and are 7-7-1 on the season. They’€™ll continue their five-game homestand when they host the Red Wings on Saturday at the Garden.

Here are four more things we learned Thursday.


How Brad Marchand was able to get up (albeit slowly) and then go punch Gabriel Landeskog in the face after the hit he took in the second period will forever be a mystery.

After releasing a shot from above the right circle, Marchand was trucked by Landeskog, who came from a mile away and delivered a hit to the head. Marchand fell to the ice in ugly fashion and, upon getting up, skated to the scrum and punched the Colorado captain in the face.

While Landeskog hit Marchand with his shoulder rather than his elbow, the play was still dirty and easily avoidable. Landeskog was given a match penalty (therefore tossed from the game) on the play for an illegal hit to the head.

Marchand, meanwhile, stayed in the game after serving a roughing minor for his retaliatory punch to Landeskog. The Bruins dodged a bullet there, as Marchand missed two games in October due to a concussion suffered in the second game of the season.


Thursday marked Dennis Seidenberg‘€™s first game since April 11, as he missed all of training camp and the first 13 games of the season recovering from back surgery.

Seidenberg was paired with Colin Miller for the game, with Zach Trotman and Joe Morrow serving as healthy scratches on defense.

Any plans of Seidenberg easing his way back in physically were dashed in the first period when he took a big hit in the defensive zone by Avalanche forward Cody McLeod. Tyler Randell reacted swiftly, fighting McLeod and earning a takedown in the game’€™s only fight.

Seidenberg also delivered a huge hit on former teammate Carl Soderberg in the second period, drawing large cheers from the Garden crowd.


Tuukka Rask was more a victim of bad luck than anything else on Colorado’€™s second goal of the game. A funny bounce caused him to miss the puck, but then again the Avalanche shouldn’€™t have even been in Boston’€™s zone.

Adam McQuaid unnecessarily iced the puck in the final minute of the period, resulting in an offensive zone faceoff for Colorado. After Matt Duchene won the draw against David Krejci, a point shot from Francois Beauchemin went off Joonas Kemppainen, changing both speed and direction as it went past Rask, who was reacting to the shot’€™s initial speed and therefore swung and missed at the puck with his glove hand.

The goal itself was ugly, but tough to pin on Rask. It was easy to pin on McQuaid.

That wasn’€™t the extent of Boston’€™s flubs on defense Thursday. Kevan Miller coughed up the puck to Mikhail Grigorenko on a third period play, with Grigorenko setting up a Matt Duchene goal to break a 2-2 tie.


Soderberg tried to explain a 24-game goal-less stretch last season by saying he was ‘€œnot a sniper.’€ Perhaps that was all an elaborate ruse to trick the Bruins into letting him score on them Thursday night.

Soderberg, who inked a very generous five-year contract with the Avs worth $4.75 million in June, scored his second goal of the season when he took a pass from Blake Comeau and fired a wrist shot from the right circle past Tuukka Rask.

It wasn’€™t all good news for Soderberg. He received a big hit from Torey Krug in the first period and was absolutely crushed by Seidenberg on the aforementioned second-period hit.

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean