Kelly emerging as top weapon

597858.jpg

Kelly emerging as top weapon

BOSTON -- On a team with the reigning Conn Smyth Trophy winner, a five-time All-Star captain, and one of the most touted young players in hockey, Chris Kelly doesnt always stand out as one of the Boston Bruins' top weapons.

But after scoring two goals in the second period of the Bs 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on
Saturday night, it was no secret who had the hot hand.

Kelly continues to have a real good year for us, head coach Claude Julien said after the
game. Hes one of those guys that flies under the radar most times and theres always bigger names that get mentioned ahead of him, but hes been probably one of our most consistent forwards this year.

And thats something thats not necessarily thought of as his pedigree, but at the same time hes one of those guys that is contributing so well for us and thats giving our team a lot more depth with scoring.

Down 2-1, Chris Kelly scored a shorthanded goal from Rich Peverley to tie the game at two
apiece. He followed up with his second goal of the game from Benoit Pouliot and (once again)
Peverley nine minutes later.

Kelly recently joked about his role as a defensive forward and now he is showcasing his skills on the offensive end. He has recorded multi-goal games in two of his last five contests and ranks second on the team in goal scored.

That success isnt changing his humble approach to the game, though.

I just happened to be kind of right place, right time, Kelly said. Especially that first one. Rich, like I said, hes probably one of the best skaters in the league and he takes the puck to the net like a lot of guys dont. I just happened to be rewarded with that one, and it was a great pass by Benny on the second one.

But ask his teammates and they are not shy about speaking to his performance.

Kells, you know what? Hes been great, Pouliot said with a smile. Hes been like this all year long so far and its a matter of just keeping that going. The way hes going, I think hes not going to stop. Hes playing well both ends of the ice, which is nice for us. Hes great down low, hes going to support every time.

With nine goals under his belt this season, Kelly has proven to be a quiet weapon so far. Dont expect that to change, either. Hell let his game do the talking.

When asked how many goals it will take for him to develop a goal scorers ego, he responded, I dont know, maybe ten. Next question.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.