Bruins' Kelly effective with workman approach

191545.jpg

Bruins' Kelly effective with workman approach

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com

It didnt take long for Chris Kelly to show exactly what hell be bringing to the table in Boston.

The newly acquired Bruins center was the first of several trade dominoes to fall during the month of February, and the 30-year-old was dropped right into playoff-level intensity games after floundering in Ottawa all season.

It was a far cry fromtheSenators,where he was skatingfor a Sens team thats been completely stripped down, and Kelly jumped right into the pressure cooker. He won a pair of face-offs late in the third period in a tight 3-1win over the Vancouver Canucks last weekend, and it was the gritty Kelly who blocked a pair of shots on an important penalty kill late in the game.

The late penalty kills and ice time in the third period -- or"winning time as it'sknown to some --were the kind of assignments that show just how confident Claude Julien is in assigningresponsibility and trust in Kellys game, and thats always the ultimate test with the Bruins coach.

The one thing I can tell you about Chris now that Ive had him a few games is this: you respect and like his game when you coach against him, and you like it even more if things have hit the fan," said Julien. "We heard about his demeanor, his attitude and ability to play under pressure, but you can also see how smart he is out there.

Ive only had him for a few games, but it says something.

Kelly is on pace for 16 goals and 16 assists this season while now manning the middle of Bostons third line between Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley and its clear the line's chemistry is being formed quickly. Both wingers really like to shoot the puck, obviously, and it comes down to Kelly figuring out when and where each forward likes the puck. The trio is beginning to develop the understanding of where each other skater fits on the ice, and that's paramount to generating offensive pressure.

Above and beyond the occasional offense, however, is the willingness to play the shot-blocking, faceoff role that could earn Kelly a lot more ice bags than easyplaudits over the course of the season and theninto the playoffs.

They had a great group before Rich Peverley and I came here, and weve been put in roles that we can succeed and do a good job while keeping it simple, said Kelly. I like our team. We skate well, we have big bodies and we have some really good goalies.

Its been good. Things are getting better each and every game. The Bruins kind of knew what they were getting into with me, and they put me in a great position to succeed. Those are the things that help a team become successful and win. I dont mind doing then. A lot of times it might go unnoticed, but the guys in the locker room notice it and appreciate it.

Kelly has logged in with a 53.8 percent success rate in faceoffs during his five games with the Bruins, and he gives Julien a pair of options for draws should the center continue to be kicked out of the circle. Thats part of the reason Julien credits the flexibility that allows the Bs to utilize either Kelly or Peverley as centers on the draw, and the same could be said of Bergeron and Marchand when wither of them is tossed out.

One thing thats clear is Andrew Ference hasnt completely put his injury woes behind him with the team traveling to Boston during an off-day of travel. Theres a void on the ice for leadership, intangibles and the willingness to play a physical brand of hockey, and Kelly has provided some of that in a package that plays roughly 15 minutes per night.One big difference that Julien has seen with both Peverley and Kelly: they've had to pay their dues and learn the little lessons of hockey in the minor league. Kelly played several seasons in the AHL and Peverley logged parts of two seasons in the ECHL. Blake Wheeler certainly had plenty ofsize and skating skill, but the instincts and attention to detail weren't always there given his jump straight from the University of Minnesota to the NHL.The new guys have those natural instincts honed in the minors."We've got to be careful we don't say everybody has to go through that, but it never hurts," saidJulienwhen asked about playing in theminors. "What it does is builds character, and they are character players. When you've gone through those leagues and ridden those buses and the schedules, even the situations you have to play through are never easy."It's like you can never be a great playerwithout going through some tough times. Some thing as a player and for coaches, and everything else. That's certainly what makes them now great character players."

Kelly might notlight up the scoresheet, but his "character" certainly gets the job done.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

ap_17146189635759.jpg

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.