Boston Bruins

Jan 23, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Philadelphia Flyers left wing James van Riemsdyk (25) defends Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller (86) during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

After a strong start to his 2021 season, Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller’s surgically-repaired knee is once again giving him problems.

Held out of the team’s Lake Tahoe game due to what sounded like general soreness, Miller’s absence has now hit four straight games, and with little information or clarity made available.

“He’s back [in Boston] and he’s doing some off-ice stuff and feeling a little better,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said over the weekend. “But until he gets on the ice, like, that’s just speculation [until] joins that group, right. So probably say status quo at best. And when we get back into Boston on back on the ice Tuesday, obviously we’ll have a better answer if he’s with us or not.”

Gotta admit… that’s not the most encouraging update.

And given the hell the 33-year-old Miller and his knee have gone through — he underwent two surgeries to repair a kneecap that broke twice during his initial recovery attempt in spring 2019 and then went through another round of procedures during the 2019-20 season — that lack of clarity or a timeline is certainly concerning.

The Bruins also added defenseman Jarred Tinordi, who while a left shot plays a similar brand of hockey as the rugged Miller, via the waiver wire Saturday.

So, again, any potential concerns certainly feel valid.

On the other hand, given the way Cassidy grossly misjudged Miller’s timeline back in 2019, perhaps this is the reigning Jack Adams erring on the side of caution. (Who could blame him?)

But a potential long-term loss of Miller might be the last thing that the Bruins, still without Matt Grzelcyk and without Jeremy Lauzon for at least another three weeks, want to deal with right now.

In addition to leading the team penalty-killing action per game this season (3:08), Miller has proven to be a strong partner for Jakub Zboril (the first-year NHLer spent Sunday’s game with Charlie McAvoy), and ranks third among all Boston defenders in hits per 60 minutes (6.86).

Miller’s loss has certainly been felt, too, with the smart-but-outmuscled Urho Vaakanainen and veteran John Moore asked to shoulder heavier D-zone minutes, and with the results less than stellar before the Bruins made the call to taxi squad defenseman Steven Kampfer’s for Sunday meeting with the Rangers.

With a Monday off, the Bruins are currently scheduled to return to the ice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena. Whether or not that includes Miller, however, remains to be seen.