After missing the last 20 games due to knee discomfort, Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller will make his return to the Boston lineup for Tuesday’s meeting with the Flyers.
On and off the ice for weeks now, Miller has skated without a timeline. Part of that was by design. The Bruins already lived through almost two calendar years without Miller unavailable and were more than aware of the pitfalls of rushing him back, and the grueling pace of the 2021 schedule has made it difficult to find practice time to truly test his knee out.
“At the start of the year we thought we were on a really good path with it and then all of a sudden [his knee] acted up,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy acknowledged. “Probably took a little while longer than anyone originally thought to get back to where we needed to be, which is good to go tonight.
“We were [by the training staff] told it would be this week. [We] wouldn’t start him in back-to-backs because [the training staff’s] thinking is, ‘Let’s not tax him too much right away, let’s get him through some games and see where it leads.'”
It’s a good thing, too, as the Bruins will play this contest without Charlie McAvoy due to an upper-body injury.
McAvoy finished Monday’s contest with a hit and three blocks in 24:02, but took a hard hit along the boards and crashed into the B’s net before the night was through.
The Bruins will make a change up front, too, with fourth-line wing Chris Wagner set to rejoin the Boston lineup after sitting out the last five games (and eight of the last 10 overall) as a healthy scratch. Zach Senyshyn will sit to make way for Wagner’s return, and the Bruins know what they want to see out of the Walpole, Mass. native in his return.
“He is a guy that can give us some energy,” said Cassidy. “He wasn’t getting there on time to be physical, so we talked about [his pace]. Some of that is just being on your toes a little bit more, working on shortening your shifts.”
But the biggest change will undoubtedly come in net, with 22-year-old Jeremy Swayman set to make his NHL debut. Swayman, a fourth-round pick (111st overall) of the Bruins in 2017, is off a sizzling start with Providence, with eight wins and a .933 save percentage in nine starts.
Swayman will be the least experienced pro goalie to make their NHL debut with the Bruins since Tuukka Rask got the call in Nov. 2007. Both Rask and Swayman had just nine games of AHL experience when given their first NHL shot.
The Bruins come into tonight’s game with a
Here’s the expected lineup and pairings for the Bruins…
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Craig Smith
Nick Ritchie – David Krejci – David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk – Charlie Coyle – Karson Kuhlman
Trent Frederic – Sean Kuraly – Chris Wagner
Matt Grzelcyk – Kevan Miller
Jeremy Lauzon – Connor Clifton
Jakub Zboril – Steve Kampfer