Kelly skates with teammates, 'days' from a return

Kelly skates with teammates, 'days' from a return
April 4, 2013, 1:15 pm
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BOSTON -- The Bruins have gone a pedestrian 6-5-1 in the 12 games since Chris Kelly went down with a broken left tibia, and the team has clearly missed him. The third line center anchors things defensively for the Bruins, wins difficult face-offs, and also registers as an offensive threat for a third line that’s been nonexistent in the offensive zone since his injury.

So it was good news when Kelly joined the rest of his Bruins teammates for Thursday’s morning skate, and will be traveling with the team to Montreal for a key Saturday night game against the Canadiens. Kelly won’t play tonight against the New Jersey Devils, but the Bruins coach spoke in terms of “days” about the two-way pivots return to the Black and Gold fold.

“He’s started skating with us as you saw. It’s just a matter of, probably, days now rather than a week that he will hopefully be back,” said Julien. “He’ll be coming with us. He’ll practice tomorrow with us, travel to Montreal and then we’ll move forward from there.”

Kelly said it’s at a point where it’s a “feel” thing for him rather than risking re-injury, and he’s eager to get back into the lineup particularly with the Bruins now down Patrice Bergeron due to a concussion. With Bergeron and his NHL-leading 61.5 percent face-off win percentage now out of the lineup, Kelly is next among Boston’s draw men while winning 60.6 percent of his face-offs.  

Obviously Kelly struggled with two goals and six points along with a minus-6 in 23 games prior to his injury, so he’s eager to start putting something positive together this year.

“I felt good out there. I’m just going to go on that every day. As I feel better and better each day then I’ll start pushing it a little bit more. But today was a good day,” said Kelly. “It feels good. It’s just about getting into the swing of things. There’s no timetable. Today was my first day with the guys and it’s just a morning skate. If there’s practice [on Friday] maybe I do a little more and where it goes."

“You want to have confidence in all aspects of your game before you jump back into your job. Conditioning is a big part of it. You don’t want to be fatigued and make yourself vulnerable to other injuries. I need to work on that and feel comfortable with the injury.”

Kelly was asked if taking contract will be one of the last hurdles before returning from the broken bone in his leg, and the dry-witted pivot made a special request for Brad Marchand rather than Lucic or Chara if that becomes a special drill in Friday’s practice session.

Even if Kelly doesn’t return to the lineup until next week with games against Carolina, New Jersey or the Islanders, that’s roughly a month recovery time since first suffering the nasty knee-on-knee hit from Chris Neil on March 11. That’s much better than the original estimates about the injury and put the Bruins into a place where they could have close to their full roster in place for at least a couple of weeks before the postseason begins.