Kelly working to hit 'top of his game'


Kelly working to hit 'top of his game'

WILMINGTON Perhaps the worst thing that could have happened to Chris Kelly was scoring 20 goals in his first full season with the Boston Bruins.
It wasnt that bad a deal for Kelly, of course. He can put 20-goal scorer down on his NHL resume for the rest of his career and it added a few dollars to his asking price when he hit unrestricted free agency last summer before inking a four-year, 12 million contract with the Bruins.
But it also raised the expectations for the third line center, and hes been a slow starter this time around. Kelly doesnt have a goal after 11 games this season, and has managed only three assists along with a minus-3 rating.
Claude Julien said there are some of his players that arent where they should be right now, and its difficult to imagine that Kelly isnt one of the players his head coach is referring to.
He had a great start last year. He scored some goals and had some decent points, said Julien. Now all of a sudden the expectations get higher, and certainly he would be the first guy to tell you that hes not at the top of his game quite yet.
But at the same time hes a veteran and he knows what to do.
Its been part of a slow building process for the third line as Chris Bourque and Rich Peverley only have a single goal each through the first quarter of the season, and the offensive production has been down for the entire line.
The goals have been a little slow to come by so far this season, but our line is playing good defense and were winning games, said Kelly. It might be a different story if the team was struggling right now, but its giving players time to find their games.
Its been difficult for anybody to miss the sluggish start to the year offensively, but Julien said that his alternate captain has been steady in the other areas of his game. Solid defensive play and good face-off numbers are just as important to Kellys effectiveness as any goals scored along the way, and hes been far from a liability this season.
Kelly has been a big part of a penalty killing unit thats been outstanding for us, said Julien. Hes been great on draws and hes been great when asked to play against other teams top lines especially after power plays when I throw him out there with different wingers.
The only part thats frustrating for him and something that we know can be a lot better, its the offensive production.
For the record, Kelly is a part of a Bs penalty kill unit that leads the NHL while killing 93.5 percent of the power plays they face, and the pivot is winning 59.4 percent of his face-offs this season.
That might not be racking up goals at a 20-goal pace for the season, but its part of the package Kelly offers as a third line center providing depth, versatility and value.

Wednesday, Oct. 26: Crosby scores in season debut


Wednesday, Oct. 26: Crosby scores in season debut

Here are all the hockey links from around the world, and what I’m reading while having a deep thought while watching commercials: how lost in your own quirkiness do you have to be to name your kid Beowulf?

*The Predators had a nasty case of food poisoning hit their team, and Adam Vingan has all the gory details.

*A great chat with FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jimmy Murphy and the legendary Russ Conway about the legendary Bobby Orr.

*Martin Biron says that Frederik Andersen looks like a much different player now with Toronto than he did with the Anaheim Ducks last season.

*An observation from a Tuesday with 1,000 decisions is that Dallas Stars head coach Lindy Ruff has a really tough job.

*As mentioned above, Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen is having a tough time in his new locale, and there may be several reasons why.

*An early Christmas present for Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop would be his two front teeth.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Sidney Crosby returning on Tuesday night, and immediately leading the Penguins in a balanced attack.  

*For something completely different: A. Sherrod Blakely has his Celtics preview, and says it’s a new year with tons of new expectations for the Men in Green.

Backes out at least two more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure


Backes out at least two more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure

The Bruins look like they’ll be without gritty veteran forward David Backes for at least the next couple of games, and probably more like the next couple of weeks.

It was announced that the gritty Bruins forward underwent a procedure on Monday remove the olecranon bursa from his elbow, and that “his condition will be updated after the weekend.” The procedure is commonly performed when bursitis in the elbow becomes an untenable, and seems more like an injury that worsens over time rather than anything that happened in a particular game this season.

Backes’ effectiveness did seem to be impacted after he got into a fight with Nazem Kadri in the second game of the season in Toronto, but it’s unknown if there’s any connection between that sequence and the forward’s elbow issues. According to the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) website, it may take “10-14 days” for the skin to heal following the procedure, and three-to-four weeks before a doctor would clear the average person to resume normal activity.

The 32-year-old Backes is off to a good start for the Bruins with two goals and four points in five games prior to missing Tuesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, and his absence makes an already-thin Bruins forward group smaller, softer and much less dangerous. With Backes on the shelf for at least the next two games against the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, the Bruins have recalled young center Austin Czarnik after his short stint with the Providence Bruins.