WILMINGTON, Mass. It seems that things werent quite so lovey dovey between the Ottawa Senators and Chris Kelly when the center made his way to Boston in a trade last February.
The deal was one of several Peter Chiarelli pulled off leading up to the trade deadline that helped the Bruins march their way to the Stanley Cup, and Kelly has settled in as one of the best third line centers in the NHL this season. Hes teamed with fellow trade acquisition Rich Peverley to form a dynamic forward group along with a surging Benoit Pouliot, and theyve been so good former first round pick Jordan Caron hasnt had a chance to crack the lineup lately.
The more you play with one another the more familiar you get with guys' tendencies, and what they do well and dont do so well. You get comfortable with each other. Even off the ice as well and that really helps things on the ice, said Kelly. Im just trying to get the puck wide to both of them to utilize their really good speed and play to their strengths. As a center thats my job to get them the puck in the neutral zone. If you get those guys the puck in the slot theyre going to make it more times than they miss it.
Claude Julien routinely sings the praises of Kellys intelligence, positioning without the puck and leadership capabilities above and beyond the nine goals and stalwart defense provided to the Bruins. That added with Peverley and Pouliot has given the Bs all kinds of depth and scoring from all three lines.
Pouliot has stepped in lately and has been playing better, and his skill level and playmaking abilities are coming around, said Julien. Those three guys are becoming familiar with each other and its helped a lot. Theyre turning into what we hoped we could create, and that they could become a line thats a threat every time they go out there.
But the Bs coach also mentioned some parting comments from departed Ottawa coach Cory Clouston after Kelly was traded last season that were bothersome at the time, and have perhaps added some motivation for the 31-year-old pivot since donning Black and Gold.
I still remember a comment that was made by his former coach last year, said Julien referring to Clouston. He said that when Kelly was traded he wasnt doing much there either. It was a cheap shot I thought at Kells as a guy coming in and giving him a chance to get used to his teammates.
Weve seen what hes capable of doing and he can be a really good player. I think most of his teammates in Ottawa knew that. I think it was obvious they missed him and I think they still do. Hes a pretty good player and a good leader.
Given what Kelly has done with the Bruins since arriving for a well-spent second round pick, it looks like Clouston is actually the one that hasnt done a whole lot since that deal last spring.