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

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.