DETROIT — Kevan Miller’s jeans started feeling a little loose. He had lost 9 or 10 pounds since he had been hit by a bug, a week filled with vomiting, fatigue, and body aches.
“I was back to like high school weight,” Miller said, incredulously. “Haven’t been 199 pounds in 10 years. My jeans didn’t fit. All my shoes. It was pretty funny.”
Fortunately for the Bruins, Miller is on the mend. After missing Game 1, he returned for Game 2, introducing himself to the Red Wings with a thump on Drew Miller in the defenseman’s first shift of the game.
“Getting there,” Miller said of feeling back to himself. “It’s a process. I’ve lost so much weight, the muscles kind of get a little bit out of shape there.”
For Miller, it wasn’t easy sitting out. He wanted to be in there, experiencing what he had only experienced in Providence: the playoffs.
“It was tough, obviously,” he said. “The hardest thing was probably watching the guys play on Friday and not being able to be a part of that. I’m just glad that’s behind me.”
He said recently that playing in the AHL last season had introduced him to the souped-up style that is the postseason. He was looking forward to it at the NHL level, to a style that might play to his particular strengths.
Coach Claude Julien was complimentary of Miller’s Game 2 performance, the kind of game he’s been known for since he came up for good in place of Adam McQuaid. It’s a simple, physical game that fits with Torey Krug in the third pairing.
Julien called Miller a “physical presence” in Game 2, adding, “He’s a strong individual, we’ve said that. He likes to finish his checks. We saw that part of his game. He kept his game simple, but effective.”
And it started with that hit on Detroit’s Miller, which Jarome Iginla later said set the tone for the Bruins.
“I was just trying to get going, to be honest with you, just get my feet underneath me,” Miller said. “We wanted to play on our toes the last game, just kind of play aggressive. That’s part of getting into the game, trying to get a hit and get going.
“I think everybody just has a part in that, whether it’s their first shift. Everyone’s out there battling pretty hard. Everyone did a really good job their first shift, just trying to get the momentum and get going from there.’’
Entering the series, the Bruins’ last victory at Joe Louis Arena came on March 11, 2007. The Bruins have played just four times in Detroit since then, including two losses this season.
“We shouldn’t think about that,” Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s about making sure we turn that around. It’s going to be a tight series, a tough series, and we’re expecting them to bounce back. So we can’t really start thinking about the building we’re playing in.
Loui Eriksson also dismissed the pair of losses the Bruins suffered in Detroit this season. “It’s different now in the playoffs,’’ he said. “We have to approach it like [Sunday], the first period we came out really good and we need to do that. We know the boards there are kind of lively.”
The Red Wings went just 18-13-10 this season at Joe Louis Arena.
Matt Bartkowski was back in the lineup after he took part in the morning skate. Andrej Meszaros and Corey Potter were the healthy scratches. Undisclosed injury front: Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly remained out of the lineup . . . Michigan native Justin Florek said he would have his parents at Game 3. Asked about playing his way onto the team, Florek said, “I don’t think about it at all, really. I go out there and play my role, just do what I can to help the team win and whatever happens, happens. That’s just kind of the way I’ve approached my career the whole way along and I’m going to continue to play that way.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.