Boston Bruins

Kelly working to hit 'top of his game'

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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.

Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

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Marchand stepping up his twitter game to hilarious effect

BOSTON – It was probably only a matter of time before it happened, but it looks like Boston’s favorite Little Ball of Hate is stepping up his game on social media.

Brad Marchand is known as much for his rabble-rousing and trash-talking on the ice as he is for massive offensive production while serving as Boston’s top scorer in each of the last few seasons. So Marchand has the perfect mixture of good humor and clout as a star NHL player, and that usually combines for a pretty powerful voice on Twitter.

Marchand has been noticeably more active on Twitter in recent days with a wide-ranging group of tweets, and the big winner is the hockey fan that gets a little more exposure to some classic Nose Face Killah wit. Some of the tweets have been as a Bruins team leader where he’s praising the talented young crop of B’s prospects that he’s watching during training camp:

Some have been about chirping the NHL for their decision to skip the Olympics this winter where Marchand most certainly would have been primed for a chance at a Gold Medal:

Some have been engaging with “fans” and dropping classic pop culture references from children’s books while showing the nasty edge that routinely drives opponents up a wall:

The Charlotte’s Web reference is a devastating classic from Marchand, a noted longtime fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Sometimes it’s just telling a quick story in a tweet that gives you an inside look at the kind of chirping that goes on when Marchand is on the ice:

A social media platform like Twitter was made for a personality like Marchand, and a stepped-up presence is good for him and good for hockey fans. So why all of a sudden is No. 63 tweeting with greater frequency over the last few days?

It sounds like it’s a combination of training camp boredom and a genuine interest in amplifying his voice on all manner of subjects.

“I’ve just been kind of lying around with nothing to do and I jumped on [twitter]…thought it was kind of funny,” said Marchand. “I thought I’d get a little more involved. I don’t know if I’m going to have enough time to do it every day, but it’s fun.”

As fun as it’s been for Marchand, it’s no doubt even more fun for the fans that might get a chance to interact with him even if it’s as the unwitting foil for one of his well-placed chirps. 

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

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Cassidy: Khudobin 'has a leg up' on backup competition in Bruins camp

BOSTON – Fresh off a strong performance allowing just a single goal on 31 shots in his preseason debut, Tuukka Rask looked close to the top of his game and exactly where he needs to be with the regular season a couple of weeks away. Nearly as important as Rask’s state as the regular season nears, the Bruins coaching staff has been keeping a keen eye through camp on the all-important backup goaltender position as well. 

It’s important that the Bruins have a quality backup goalie in place as they hope to start Rask in just 55-60 games this season, and manage the slender puck-stopper in a way where they can get the best out of him from beginning to end. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated Anton Khudobin has the inside track on the backup job after finding his groove in the second half of last season, and it would appear he’s well on his way to retaining his job with a Malcolm Subban/Zane McIntyre tandem in Providence.

“Tuukka looks good, and looks good in practice and healthy. So that’s reassuring,” said Cassidy. “[Anton Khudobin] I thought played very well in his game. He had the one unfortunate goal, but I thought he was rock-solid the rest of the game. He’s in very good shape and he’s practiced well, so he’s got a leg up on the other [goalies] based on his experience.

“We know that going in, but he’s going to get pushed. Zane [McIntyre] was good in a game, and Malcolm let in a couple where he could have been more aggressive. But it was a first game, so right now they all look good. That’s a good problem to have if they all push each other, but to get direct to the point Anton has done nothing to lose that backup spot.”

At this point, it would likely be McIntyre rather than Subban that would challenge for the NHL backup job if Khudobin did stumble at all in training camp or early in the regular season as he did last year. There will be no backup controversy, however, if the 31-year-old plays like he did in stopping 20-of-22 shots in Tuesday night’s win vs. the Red Wings or as he did going 6-1-0 with a .922 save percentage after the All-Star break last season.  

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