Bruins' Kelly should provide value in postseason

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Bruins' Kelly should provide value in postseason

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON Chris Kelly couldnt believe it when he was told that hes played 21 games for the Bruins since being traded away from the Ottawa Senators.

His offensive numbers certainly don't suggest he's been in Boston that long.

The defense-minded center isnt ever going to blow anybody away with his statistics, given the nuanced skills in his game, but even defensive players like to light the lamp every once in a while.

So Kelly was understandably excited when he potted his first goal as a member of the Bruins to push their lead to 3-0 against the Rangers on Monday night. He was equally crestfallen when his teammates crumbled into a pile of quivering Jell-O on the Madison Square Garden ice and lost 5-3.

Not scoring is obviously something you dont want to do, said Kelly, who has 13 goals and 13 assists combined between the Bruins and Senators this season. You want to be contributing offensively, and especially with the opportunities that we were getting as a line.

It felt like it was only a matter of time for us to score some goals. Youve got that extra pressure on you due to that, but you can take it the other way where youre not doing much as a line and youre getting broken apart because youre not generating anything.

Its all part of the process for the 30-year-old Kelly since moving from the Senators to the Bruins just before the trade deadline, and he likes whats seen while slowly adjusting to life skating between Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin or with Michael Ryder, as he was during Tuesdays practice at Ristuccia Arena.

That 5-on-5 work, along with Kellys budding chemistry with fellow new guy Peverley on the same penalty killing unit, have given Kelly a role on the team as a defensively responsible middle man capable of keeping up speed-wise with his fellow linemates.

Kelly said the chemistry hes built with the skilled Peverley in such a short time is similar to the working relationship he had with Antoine Vermette while playing in Ottawa and its made the big move to Boston that much easier.

The only problem: Kelly and Peverley have combined for seven points (3 goals, 4 assists) and a minus-7 in 41 games for the Bs since being traded. Claude Juliens crew needs much better production out of the duo, and no more of the close but no cigar sentiments following the game.

Obviously Rich skates really well, hes a good offensive player and hes a good two-way player as well, but obviously not having known him at all getting here it takes a little time getting to know him, said Kelly. Coming to a new team with new surroundings and new everything made it interesting, but us both being in that situation gave Peverley and me something in common, and maybe allowed us to blend so well together.

Kelly is 13th on the Bruins with his 15:03 of ice time each game for Boston, and is living up to his reputation as a good faceoff man while capturing 52.6 percent of his draws with the Bs second among Bruins' centers behind Patrice Bergeron at a 56.6 percent success rate.

The skating speed, the gritty tenacity and the faceoff proficiency were all things that have arrived as advertised, but one still gets the feeling that the best is yet to come for a player who's got nearly 50 games of playoff experience in his career. Kelly has been to the Stanley Cup Finals and knows what it takes to get there, but is looking for that elusive Cup like so many other players on the Bs roster.

Coming in was obviously difficult. Leaving Ottawa after getting drafted there and playing my whole career there and coming into a new locker room without knowing anybody but Zdeno Chara and Shane Hnidy was difficult. But I kept telling myself originally when I got traded that in a month, it wont be weird anymore. It will just be regular. Thats been the case.

Looking back on it Im glad I took that approach. The guys have been really welcoming and the coaches have been very good about helping me get adjusted to a new system. The transition has been a real treat in joining this team.

As things get a little less weird for Kelly with the postseason approaching, all of those little things that the center brings to the table will become a lot more evident to those that do little more than study the scoresheet.

Its been a quiet 21 games for Kelly since arriving in Boston, but the next 21 should be much more eventful for the proven playoff performer.

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

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Tuesday, Jan. 24: Crosby, Matthews top coaches' poll

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while rooting for “Manchester By the Sea” to upset some favorites at the Oscars.

*Sidney Crosby and Auston Matthews top the annual NHL coaches' poll produced by TSN Insider Bob McKenzie.

*The oral history of Fox’s glowing puck used for the NHL during their run with the league is an entertaining one.

*Mike Babcock gives pep talks to the reporters along with his own players while running the show in Toronto.

*The Vegas Golden Knights are moving forward with their timetable toward hiring a coach with some good candidates out there now, and some other ones potentially available soon. I’ve wondered if Claude Julien would be interested in that spot if he’s let go by the Bruins this season, but the one sure thing is that he wouldn’t be out of work long if he is relieved of his duties.

*Claude Giroux needs to start playing a little more fearlessly and without dwelling on mistakes, according to his general manager.

*Detroit Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill doesn’t believe that fancy stats and analytics have had a major impact on the way the Wings do things.

*PHT writer James O’Brien has the rundown on a Millenial’s dream of performers at the 2017 NHL All-Star Game: Nick Jonas, Fifth Harmony and Carly Rae Jepsen.

*For something completely different: keeping an eye on the notion that Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is going to run for President.

 


 

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

BRIGHTON, Mass – Claude Julien met with the media after Tuesday’s morning skate and there was a bit of a long pause between questions at one point early in the session.

“I understand because everything that needs to be said has already been said, right?” cracked the longtime Bruins bench boss, who was in good spirits after morning skate despite the turmoil around him.

It’s clearly less about words and more about results right now for a struggling team that’s lost a season-worst four games in a row in gut-punching fashion and has fallen out of a playoff position despite teams above them, Ottawa and Toronto, holding five games in hand on them. 

The Bruins are in a freefall at the worst possible time and at this point, Julien wants to see positive action and winning results from his team rather than the empty talk with the media.

“We want to respect our game plan, execute it well and that normally helps you. We’ve been a little bit all over the place, especially in the last game,” said Julien. “That’s what we addressed yesterday, moving forward.

“I haven’t used the All-Star break as a motivation. We’re basically looking at these last two games, and what we have to do in these last two games. I think we’re well aware of what’s waiting for them after that. The players normally know when the breaks are. That’s not for us right now. I’d like to see our focus on what we need to do [against the Wings] to right the ship. We’ve talked about it a lot, and I think right now the less said, and the more shown is probably the best thing.”

With two games left until the All-Star break, one has to wonder what Julien’s fate will be if the Bruins drop both games to Detroit and Pittsburgh before the group breaks up for All-Star weekend. 

A good showing might be enough to keep Julien calling the shots for the Black and Gold down the stretch this season. But the sense is that more of the same fragile, losing efforts from the Bruins in these final two home dates, a familiar look from this group over the past three seasons, could spell doom for the winningest coach in Bruins franchise history.

One thing is for sure: Words aren’t going to do anything for Julien, and instead it’s about cold, hard results for the coach and the Bruins players who are nose-diving in the middle of the regular season.