Bruins

Bruins' Kelly should provide value in postseason

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Bruins' Kelly should provide value in postseason

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Chris Kelly couldnt believe it when he was told that hes played 21 games for the Bruins since being traded away from the Ottawa Senators.

His offensive numbers certainly don't suggest he's been in Boston that long.

The defense-minded center isnt ever going to blow anybody away with his statistics, given the nuanced skills in his game, but even defensive players like to light the lamp every once in a while.

So Kelly was understandably excited when he potted his first goal as a member of the Bruins to push their lead to 3-0 against the Rangers on Monday night. He was equally crestfallen when his teammates crumbled into a pile of quivering Jell-O on the Madison Square Garden ice and lost 5-3.

Not scoring is obviously something you dont want to do, said Kelly, who has 13 goals and 13 assists combined between the Bruins and Senators this season. You want to be contributing offensively, and especially with the opportunities that we were getting as a line.

It felt like it was only a matter of time for us to score some goals. Youve got that extra pressure on you due to that, but you can take it the other way where youre not doing much as a line and youre getting broken apart because youre not generating anything.

Its all part of the process for the 30-year-old Kelly since moving from the Senators to the Bruins just before the trade deadline, and he likes whats seen while slowly adjusting to life skating between Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin or with Michael Ryder, as he was during Tuesdays practice at Ristuccia Arena.

That 5-on-5 work, along with Kellys budding chemistry with fellow new guy Peverley on the same penalty killing unit, have given Kelly a role on the team as a defensively responsible middle man capable of keeping up speed-wise with his fellow linemates.

Kelly said the chemistry hes built with the skilled Peverley in such a short time is similar to the working relationship he had with Antoine Vermette while playing in Ottawa and its made the big move to Boston that much easier.

The only problem: Kelly and Peverley have combined for seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) and a minus-7 in 41 games for the Bs since being traded. Claude Juliens crew needs much better production out of the duo, and no more of the close but no cigar sentiments following the game.

Obviously Rich skates really well, hes a good offensive player and hes a good two-way player as well, but obviously not having known him at all getting here it takes a little time getting to know him, said Kelly. Coming to a new team with new surroundings and new everything made it interesting, but us both being in that situation gave Peverley and me something in common, and maybe allowed us to blend so well together.

Kelly is 13th on the Bruins with his 15:03 of ice time each game for Boston, and is living up to his reputation as a good faceoff man while capturing 52.6 percent of his draws with the Bs second among Bruins' centers behind Patrice Bergeron at a 56.6 percent success rate.

The skating speed, the gritty tenacity and the faceoff proficiency were all things that have arrived as advertised, but one still gets the feeling that the best is yet to come for a player who's got nearly 50 games of playoff experience in his career. Kelly has been to the Stanley Cup Finals and knows what it takes to get there, but is looking for that elusive Cup like so many other players on the Bs roster.

Coming in was obviously difficult. Leaving Ottawa after getting drafted there and playing my whole career there and coming into a new locker room without knowing anybody but Zdeno Chara and Shane Hnidy was difficult. But I kept telling myself originally when I got traded that in a month, it wont be weird anymore. It will just be regular. Thats been the case.

Looking back on it Im glad I took that approach. The guys have been really welcoming and the coaches have been very good about helping me get adjusted to a new system. The transition has been a real treat in joining this team.

As things get a little less weird for Kelly with the postseason approaching, all of those little things that the center brings to the table will become a lot more evident to those that do little more than study the scoresheet.

Its been a quiet 21 games for Kelly since arriving in Boston, but the next 21 should be much more eventful for the proven playoff performer.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

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No hesitation from Chara in scoring after scary incident in Montreal

BOSTON – Less than 48 hours after one of his legendarily hard slap shots put a Montreal Canadiens forward in the hospital after striking him in the head, Zdeno Chara didn’t hesitate when given the chance to wind up and blast away on Monday afternoon.

It was the 40-year-old Chara that rocketed a slapper past Kari Lehtonen at the end of the second period, and in doing so energized the Bruins while getting them on the scoreboard. The Chara goal helped earn the Black and Gold a point in overtime before eventually falling to the Dallas Stars by a 3-2 score at TD Garden on Monday afternoon.

The Bruins captain had been texting with the felled Montreal winger on Monday, and was fully aware that Phillip Danault was out of the hospital and doing well aside from understandable concussion symptoms after a puck to the head. Perhaps that eased Chara’s mind just a little when it came time to lean into another wind-up slapper on Monday, but it was also certainly aided by the lack of brave bodies willing to front one of his heavy, hard point blasts.

“I obviously spoke to Phillip a number of times. I talked to him right after the game and wanted to make sure he was okay, and he texted me back that he’s doing fine. He’s been released [from the hospital] and that’s very positive, good news,” said Chara. “It’s obviously very unfortunate that it’s something that happens quite often, but it’s something you never want to see with somebody getting hit and hurt. I’m very happy he’s going to recover fully and hopefully he’s back on the ice and playing hockey [soon] like we all do.”

Was there any hesitation to Chara winding up and stepping into a 100-mph slap shot so quickly after the ugly incident in Montreal?

“It’s something that doesn’t happen very often where you have that clean [shooting] path to the net where you can settle the puck, take a look and take a full slapper,” said Chara. “Usually teams play so well structurally that there’s already somebody fronting it, and you’ve got to get it through him with bodies in front. It does happen, but it’s nice that you have that time to put everything on it.”

That’s exactly what the 6-foot-9 defenseman did in sparking the Bruins to come back from a 2-0 deficit and push for the overtime point while extending their point streak to a season-best 13 games and counting.

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Overtime heroics a reminder of what Bruins gave up in Seguin

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Overtime heroics a reminder of what Bruins gave up in Seguin

BOSTON – The Tyler Seguin trade from the Bruins is pretty much ancient history at this point.

It was almost five years ago, all of the good-but-not-great players Boston received in the deal from Dallas are long gone. The Bruins general manager that engineered the big trade is now dealing with totally different brush fires while running a star-crossed Edmonton Oilers group.

But the one Stars visit per season to Boston usually serves as a reminder of what the B’s dealt away in the Fourth of July trade, and for perhaps the first time ever Seguin looked like a legit, all-around No. 1 center in the Stars 3-2 overtime win over the B’s at TD Garden. Seguin made the highlight reel with an overtime game-winner after dangling through the entire Bruins group on the ice, and watching bemusement as Bruins kept diving at him trying to stop him.

The gassed trio of Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak and Matt Grzelcyk were on the ice hemmed into the D-zone for a long time, and simply couldn’t get the puck away from the Stars once a delayed penalty was called on Grzelcyk.

“I felt like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass, so I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it,” said Seguin, who is on pace for 39 goals and 75 points this season with the Stars. “I just kind of shot it and luckily it went in.”

It was more than luck as Anton Khudobin had already dropped into a crazed double-pad stacked save attempt while Seguin was still holding patiently onto the puck.

“That’s really tough, to be honest. He has the puck there, and all the way, all the way, going, going, going, going and I mean, guys were laying down and trying to block the shot,” said Khudobin. “He had a lot of patience and I think it went between my legs or something like that and it’s just tough. Good goal by him.'

“Nothing is impossible. You know, [Seguin] is a good player and he scored a pretty good goal. But at the same time I can stop that. But I didn’t this time and overtime is not really easy because it’s 3-on-3.”

But all the overtime heroics aside, Seguin was solid throughout the game. It was almost enough to make Bruins fans go through the entire gamut of emotions again at one of a number of trades where the organization cut bait on a talented player at a very young juncture of their career.

“I think he’s through testing. I think he has made himself to be a very good player, and he’s accountable in every situation. He’s really matured. I think he’s a guy that we don’t even worry about anymore,” said Dallas head coach Ken Hitchcock. “Everyone talked about, ‘Can you make him a one?’ Well, quite frankly, he’s a [No. 1 center], and he’s playing like a one. He’s played six games in a row like this, and this is what you want in a number one center. He’s doing the job.

“He’s killing penalties, he’s out there taking key face-offs, he’s quarterbacking the power play, and he’s playing against the other team’s best player. To me, that’s what a [No. 1 center] does, and that’s exactly what he’s doing.”

Mostly matched up against the Perfection Line that he used to be a part of, Seguin managed a 12-for-21 performance in the face-off circle while holding Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak off the board offensively. Even better for Seguin and Dallas, he was on the ice for the second Stars goal against the Bergeron trio for only the second even strength goal they’ve given up all season.

Seguin killed penalties, he finished with four shot attempts, had a couple of takeaways and played the kind of mature, 200-foot game that most wondered if he’d ever be capable of in his NHL career.

So credit where it’s due for Seguin showing all of that while clearly still in a headspace where coming to Boston is special for him.

“It’s special and it’s weird playing here still. You know, I enjoy the anthem, and looking up and seeing the banner for the team that I was a part of. It’s always going to be special, you know, playing here and having old teammates on the team,” said Seguin. “I’ve been thinking a lot more of defense, a lot more of face-offs, and a lot more of, you know, the little things. I’ve been judging my performances based on those things more than goals and assists. That’s been the biggest change for me, trying to put the work in, and [against the Bruins] it worked out for me.”

The Bruins have long since chalked up dealing a horse (Seguin) for ponies (Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow) as a big fat loss considering it never got them any closer to another Stanley Cup, and it didn’t give them any players still of use to the organization less than five years later.

But Monday afternoon’s overtime loss to Seguin and the Stars was a different kind of frustrating while watching a more mature, seemingly changed Seguin that would have fit in very nicely with the direction that the Bruins are headed these days.

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