Kevan Miller

Kevan Miller is the exception to the Zdeno Chara rule

DJ Bean
January 06, 2016 - 6:16 pm
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If and when Claude Julien writes a book on how to make still-developing defensemen good, Zdeno Chara will write the foreword, which will consist of "Play them with me," and then the book will be over. Chara has had some great partners over the years with the Bruins -- Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton come to mind -- but it'€™s no secret that Julien can take any player who is otherwise OK and make him very good by skating him with Chara. The reason, quite simply, is because Chara is such a dominant player that skating with him more than makes up for the difficult competition that comes with playing on a top pairing. This has been the case for a number of players over the years. Among them: Zach Trotman, Torey Krug and Steven Kampfer. Not Kevan Miller. Miller, mysteriously, is the exception to this rule. "But Deej!" you say. "That just means that Kevan Miller stinks!" Not necessarily, and that'€™s rude. The 28-year-old Miller, who is still just 119 games into his NHL career, is an OK third-pairing defenseman, as some of the aforementioned names were when they were put on pairings with Chara. Yet instead of getting better when playing with Chara, this season has suggested that Miller gets worse when paired with the (somehow only) one-time Norris winner. Miller'€™s most common partner this season has been Torey Krug, with whom he'€™s played 160:24 in 5-on-5. His next most-common partner has been Chara, with whom he'€™s played 120:22 of 5-on-5 time. Playing with Krug often draws so-so competition -- Krug has had the fifth-toughest quality of competition among Bruins defensemen this season, using time on ice of competition as a barometer -- whereas playing with Chara draws the other team'€™s best players, as evidenced by Chara having the hardest quality of competition. Miller has been fine with Krug. The Bruins have outscored opponents when the two have played together -- 2.62 goals for per 60; 1.12 goals against per 60 for a goals for percentage of 70. When Chara and Miller are together, the Bruins are outscored -- 2.49 goals for per 60 and 4.49 goals against per 60, making for a rather horrifying 35.7 goals for percentage. That'€™s the comparison of Miller with Chara versus Miller with Krug. The numbers of Miller simply with and without Chara are even more telling: "But Deej!" you say. "Maybe Miller'€™s worse with Chara than players in seasons past because Chara has gotten worse! Chara just looks slower out there!" No. Chara is still having the Chara effect on his partners. Including Kevan Miller, five defensemen have played at least 20 minutes of 5-on-5 with Chara this season. The four not named Kevan Miller all have better numbers with Chara than without him. All four -- Adam McQuaid, Dennis Seidenberg, Colin Miller and Zach Trotman -- have better goals for percentages with Chara, while Trotman'€™s minor bump in Corsi For percentage without Chara (48.8 with him, 49.0 without him) is the only trace of a player'€™s possession numbers not dipping when not with Chara. Whether it'€™s the quality of competition that comes with skating as Chara'€™s partner or the fact that the duo lacks mobility, the Chara-Kevan Miller pairing has not been good. While that'€™s not reason enough to write off Miller altogether, it'€™s reason enough for Julien to separate the pairing, which he used to begin Tuesday night'€™s game against the Capitals. If McQuaid is to miss any stretch of time, the numbers indicate that Julien would be wise to not play Miller to Chara'€™s right, where McQuaid has often played this season. The Bruins have other options -- Trotman, Colin Miller -- and Kevan Miller figures to be better off with Krug.

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