The Bruins will have to carry on without their third-line center just as it seemed he was turning his game around.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced on Wednesday afternoon that Chris Kelly is out indefinitely with a broken left tibia resulting from an accidental knee-on-knee hit authored by Ottawa's Chris Neil earlier this week. Kelly went down in a heap immediately and couldn’t put any weight on the left leg as he was helped off the ice and down the runway at Scotiabank Place.
It was initially thought that Kelly’s knee was injured, but his knee was found to be structurally sound. It was instead a broken bone in his leg that was the problem.
According to the Bruins, Kelly is out indefinitely. Those looking for a timetable might find it instructive that Kings center Jeff Carter missed six weeks with a broken left tibia during the 2006-07 season as a member of the Flyers. On the other end of the recovery spectrum, Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference broke his left tibia back in 2008-09 and missed close to 10 weeks.
Six weeks is a little more substantial during a shortened 48-game season, though, and it’s conceivable that the injury could keep Kelly out for the rest of the regular season if it’s indeed a six-week recovery process. That’s all assuming it was the same exact injury for Kelly and Carter, and there’s no way of knowing that until speaking with Bruins management and their medical staff.
For the time being, the B’s will make due with Rich Peverley at the center position on the third line and 38-year-old Jay Pandolfo on the left wing, but the news clearly puts a little more urgency in Boston’s pursuit of forwards on the trade market. Swedish mystery man Carl Soderberg also still looms as a possibility now that the Bruins have a definite need for a live body among their forward group to replace the normally solid two-way play of Kelly.
The 30-year-old Kelly is coming off his best NHL season when he potted 20 goals with a plus-33 in 2011-12, but he was off to a rough start this season with only two goals and a stunning minus-6 rating through 23 games.