BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins have already suffered their first injury blow of the playoffs before they’ve even begun as defenseman Kevan Miller is out to start the first round series vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs with a left knee injury.
Miller suffered the injury in the win over Minnesota last week when he crashed awkwardly into the corner boards while battling with Jordan Greenway for a loose puck. Miller returned for a couple of shifts later in the period, but sat out of the final game of the regular season for what the Bruins described as “precautionary reasons.”
“Kevan Miller has some additional swelling and some further tests and he’s not likely to start the series,” said Bruins general manager Don Sweeney. “But as far as [Sean] Kuraly and [John] Moore go, I think we expect to see them at some point during the series.”
It’s another in a long line of injuries this season for Miller, who missed exactly half of the regular season with an assortment of injuries. The Bruins will certainly miss his rugged, physical style of play and the surliness he brought to the table when things get nasty in the postseason, but they also have a young player in Connor Clifton who’s stepped up this season as he’s received opportunities in Boston due to injuries.
Certainly Clifton has shown a penchant for throwing hard hits, and also annoying the other team’s best players as he did while battling with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov in the final regular-season game last weekend.
“The growth in his game has been very good. He’s a very competitive guy, so this time of year that’s one of the most important things and certainly an identity of our club. I think he’s more comfortable moving the puck, when to make a play, when to join the rush,” said Bruce Cassidy of Clifton. “[He’s] certainly physical and will take an opportunity to finish his checks. This time of year that becomes, that increases with every team.
“I like where he’s at with his game. We’ll see when he gets in there how he responds, but as you know, most teams will go through a certain number of defensemen [due to injuries] if you have any type of run at all. I suspect we’ll see him at some point [in the playoffs].”
Sweeney also said that both Sean Kuraly and John Moore have begun skating again, and the hope is that both injured players will insert into the B’s lineup at some point during the first-round playoff series against the Maple Leafs.
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