Veteran defenseman Kevan Miller, who fractured a knee twice in a span of weeks last spring and missed the playoffs, recently underwent a medical procedure to help speed his recovery time but remained out of practice during the Bruins’ workout Monday in Brighton.
“I thought by now he would be back in the mix,” said coach Bruce Cassidy, who provided little additional information about the procedure, which he said was performed two weeks ago. “I don’t have a great answer for you, but we’ll do our best to get him back here and see what his progress is — because he should be back with us.”
Cassidy said he did “not know the exact term” for the procedure, but referred to “spinning the blood to help healing.”
“All legal! All legal!” said a lighthearted Cassidy, not wanting anyone to confuse the procedure with controversial blood doping practices.
Miller, 32, has not played since fracturing his kneecap the first time in the final week of the 2018-19 regular season. Less than two months later, with the Bruins on the verge of sweeping the Hurricanes in the Cup semifinals, he fractured the knee a second time during dryland workouts in Raleigh.
Miller, an unrestricted free agent as of July 1, 2020, was sorely missed in the Cup Final. Without his size and ruggedness on the back line, Blues’ forecheckers time and again took liberties teeing off on Boston defensemen tasked with retrieving pucks on the rear wall.
Homestand opens against LA
The Los Angeles Kings, who waived Ilya Kovalchuk with 1½ years left on his deal, will be at the Garden Tuesday night when the Bruins open their four-game home-for-the-holiday Causeway Street tour.
The Kings will be followed by the Islanders (Thursday), Predators (Saturday), and the Capitals (Monday), leading up to the Bruins’ brief holiday break. Once back to work, the Bruins will close out the calendar year in Buffalo (Dec. 27) and New Jersey (Dec. 31).
When Kovalchuk was a free agent and shopping for a new team in June 2018, the Bruins courted him with an offer of a one- or two-year deal, but GM Don Sweeney was reluctant to push out to a longer term. The Kings landed Kovalchuk for three years/$18.75 million and have regretted it from the start.
Once cut free by the Kings, Kovalchuk (43 points in 81 games with LA) will be free to sign with any other NHL club, or perhaps entertain offers from the KHL, where he played for 5½ seasons before hitching on with the Kings at age 35.
Coyle remains with Krejci
Charlie Coyle will continue life Tuesday as David Krejci’s right winger, moving up to the second line after impressive work as the pivot on the No. 3 line.
As a winger, Coyle must switch to a shoot-first mentality, which can be a challenge for a puck-possession center accustomed always to looking for the next play.
For his part, Coyle is OK with the swap. He regularly switched back between the positions during his 7½ seasons with the Wild.
“It depends on how the game’s going,” explained Coyle, who has Jake DeBrusk now as his opposite winger. “Sometimes you play center and you shoot more — sometimes playing wing, you possess more and you are on your wing making break-out passes. It depends on the game. I just want to do what I can to be the best player I can, and that’s possessing the puck, winning battles, being hard on the puck down low in your zone, and taking the puck to the net. I have to do a little more of that, I think. That will help my game. It will help the team’s game. Make that shot to the net and know my other two guys are going there.”
Pastrnak still leads NHL
David Pastrnak, who potted a pair in Saturday’s win in Florida, went into Monday’s games still ranked as the league’s No. 1 goal scorer with 28, followed by Jack Eichel (23) and Alex Ovechkin (21) . . . Brad Marchand (50 points) was third in the league scoring race, tied with fellow Nova Scotian Nathan McKinnon. Leading the pace: Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (57) and Leon Draisaitl (56) . . . Boston’s expected scratches vs. LA: Brett Ritchie and Par Lindholm up front, and either John Moore or Connor Clifton on the back line.