Bruins' Kelly should provide value in postseason

Bruins' Kelly should provide value in postseason
April 6, 2011, 6:43 am
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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