Kelly cleared to play, will make return vs. Hurricanes

Kelly cleared to play, will make return vs. Hurricanes
April 8, 2013, 12:15 pm
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BOSTON -- While Chris Kelly had struggled mightily this season before suffering a broken left tibia, the Bruins are hoping that he can become a stabilizing force in the middle as he returns from injury. Kelly informed the assembled media after Monday’s morning skate that he’s been medically cleared to play, and by the sound of things he’s expected to be in the lineup against the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I’m hoping the transition won’t be too bad, and I’ll just come in and play my game,” said Kelly, who had six points (2 goals, 4 assists) and a minus-6 in 23 games for the Bruins before suffering the injury. “It’s nice to get playing again and get some games in before the regular season is over. I’m happy that I get an opportunity to play.”

The 32-year-old Kelly has missed 14 games with the injury, and it appears he’ll jump back in with completely new linemates: Tyler Seguin on his right side after he’s been dropped from his usual pairing with Brad Marchand, and Daniel Paille on the left side as the fourth line has also been blown up due to injuries.

Kelly should be a solid calming force in the middle with speed on either side of him in Seguin and Paille, but that could take at least a few shifts as No. 23 gets his feet under him after missing nearly a month.

Julien’s hope is that eventually he can hit the ground running after just getting back on the ice for workouts a week ago today.

“Unless something happens today that would make it different, we expect him in the lineup tonight,” said Julien. “We don’t expect anything more out of any player when they’re coming back. He’ll probably ease into it - short shifts and going to keep his game simple."

“Hopefully he’ll gain momentum as the game wears on.”

With other key players in Patrice Bergeron and Adam McQuaid out of the lineup, it’s welcome news to know that at least Kelly is back with Boston’s center depth being challenged over the last few weeks.