Notes: Kelly proves his worth to the Bruins


Notes: Kelly proves his worth to the Bruins

By Joe Haggerty

BOSTON Chris Kelly was a punch line in March and parts of early April.

The joke was usually something along the lines of, The Boston Bruins gave up a second-round pick for this? It was most often uttered by those picking apart Bostons affinity for two-way centers with playoff experience.

Kellys biggest sin in their eyes: He wasnt a flashy offensive playmaker like the man he replaced, the injured Marc Savard.

But Kelly and Peter Chiarelli, who traded for hin, are getting the last laugh. The former Ottawa Senator forwards postseason chops (43 games) are shining through when it matters most. Kelly capped off an excellent seven-game series against the Montreal Canadiens with a third-period goal that could have been the game-winner before it was wiped out by a P.K. Subban power-play score.

When Kelly first came to us, and same with Rich Peverley . . . I mean, those guys are trying to fit in and at one point it looked like, 'Are these were the right guys?' But Chris Kelly has been such a good player, said coach Claude Julien. We made the switch with Peverley at center and he was more speed and be a little bit more comfortable, and Kells has played both. Hes adapted so well.

Not only has hes been good production-wise, but hes such a reliable player. He does all those little things right. Not very often you see him make a mistake that turns into a scoring chance for the other team. Hes become very vocal as well. He felt very comfortable in that dressing room and even on the bench. I hear him talking a lot, and he certainly keeps guys in line.

Kelly, 30, finished his first Bruins-Habs playoff series with six points (three goals, three assists) in seven games. Combine his offensive production with his two-way defensive abilities, the chemistry he has achieved with Michael Ryder and Peverley, and his veteran leadership voice within the locker room, and you have a very valuable playoff role player.

Every year the teams are different, there is a bit different makeup, said goalie Tim Thomas. Chris Kelly has probably been in different Game 7's with Ottawa. I think his experience showed this series. He was one of our best players."

Thomas would be shocked to know that Wednesday night was Kellys first NHL experience with a Game 7, but wouldn't be shocked to know that this sort of pressure doesn't bother him. Kelly is the kind of solid, grounded forward that can fly under the radar during the regular season, and then flash during the playoffs.

His third-period goal came after he dumped Roman Hamrlik with a heavy hit while gaining the zone. While Hamrlik flopped and squirmed on the ice looking for a penalty, Andrew Ference grabbed the loose puck and fired it at the Montreal net. Kelly hopped out of the way of the hot shot as it headed toward Carey Price, and then the Bs forward popped home the rebound when the Habs goaltender couldnt absorb the puck.

Kelly hasnt scored a single goal from outside 10 feet of the painted area during the playoffs, but thats exactly where the vast majority of the postseason goals are manufactured.

Ference couldnt help but marvel at how close the BruinsCanadiens playoff series was between the two archrivals.

The thing that sticks out this series is how close every game has been, said Ference. I think some of the Canadiens players touched on it after our overtime game here. Its really just been a matter of bounces."

This was the third playoff meeting between the teams in the last four years. Ference has been around for all of them.

"I think the first time we played them, we were a real underdog," said Ference, referring to the 2008 matchup when Montreal was seeded first in the East and the Bruins eighth, though the B's pushed the Habs to seven games before falling. "It was the first time we made the playoffs in a long time.

The second time around we had a killer year and obviously did very well " he said of the 2009 meeting, in which it was Boston seeded first and Montreal eighth and the Bruins swept the series in four.

"This year it feels the most even of all of them and I think the games have definitely proven that right. Its been really tight, very even and good playoff hockey. I mean every team has earned their wins. Mark Recchi reached several playoff milestones when he rifled home Bostons second goal of the first period.

Recchi became the oldest player, at age 43, to score a goal in a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The goal was also Recchi's 57th in his playoff career, which moved him into a tie with Cam Neely for 36th on the NHL all-time playoff scoring list.Yeah, thats what happens when you're 50. You are going to get those things, Recchi said with a smile on his face. Its good, you know I thought it was going to be a big goal. We really came out and had some momentum and we really jumped on them right away. I give them credit: they battled and their power play got them back in the game and then they scored a short-handed goal. But we were resilient. They were resilient. It was a heck of a series, it was fun to be a part of. A lot of tradition with these two teams, they are a classy organization. The Bruins are a classy organization. Its just a fun rivalry, we are just glad we ended up on this side of it this time.

The Game 7 records for Bruins players and their head coach prior to Wednesday nights series finale: 13-41. The Game Seven records for all Habs players and their head coach prior to Wednesday nights game: 44-17. So much for statistics and past history being anybodys guide.

Ex-Boston goalie Reggie Lemelin was the honorary Bruins captain. He gave his customary Lemelin fist pump before getting the giant Bruins flag started on its journey around the lower bowl section of the crowd prior to puck drop.

Tyler Seguin and Shane Hnidy once again were the scratches for the Bruins after taking part in the pregame warm-up.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch


Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch

BOSTON -- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Saturday night represented a step in a positive direction for Ryan Spooner.

The 24-year-old speedy forward was scratched for the home opener against New Jersey in classic message-sending fashion by Bruins coach Claude Julien, and deserved it based on a passive lack of production combined with some costly mistakes as well. So he stayed quiet, put in the work and then returned to the lineup Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens where he scored a power play goal in the 4-2 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

“He was better,” agreed Claude Julien. “He was better tonight.”

Spooner could have had even more as he got a couple of great scoring chances in the first period vs. Montreal, but Carey Price was able to turn away a couple of free looks at the Montreal net. So the Bruins forward felt he possibly left points on the ice after it was all said and done, but also clearly played his best game of the young season after going from the press box back to the lineup.

“Yeah, I had like maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on,” said Spooner. “I’ve just got to bear down on those [scoring opportunities], and a lot [of them] in the first period. It’s good that I’m getting those looks, but I have to score on them.

“I’m just going to go out there and just try to play. I can’t really think about [fighting to hold a spot]. I’ve just got to go out there and try to play, I guess, the game I can and try to use the speed that I have.”

The Spooner power play strike was a nifty one with the shifty forward and David Backes connecting on a pass across the front of the net, and the young B’s forward showing the necessary assertiveness cutting to the net from his half-wall position.

Spooner had five shot attempts overall in the game, and was one of the few Bruins players really getting the chances they wanted against a pretty effective Montreal defensive group. Now it’s a matter of Spooner, along with linemates Backes and David Krejci, scoring during 5-on-5 play and giving the Bruins a little more offensive balance after riding Boston’s top line very hard during the regular season’s first couple of weeks. 

Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils


Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting to find out which Walking Dead character got brained by Lucille in last season’s cliffhanger. I’m going with Abraham.

*The SI roundtable talks about the future of Jacob Trouba, and where he’ll end up going when his current situation resolves itself.

*P.K. Subban is apparently getting very comfortable in Nashville, and enjoying life in a city with NFL football.

*Fun conversation between Yahoo’s Josh Cooper and Brad Marchand about a whole range of random topics.

*A cool father-son story where they became the goaltending tandem for the Ontario Reign through a series of dominoes falling after Jonathan Quick went down with injury for the Los Angeles Kings.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Taylor Hall serving as exactly what the New Jersey Devils have needed for the last couple of years.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy says that the MLB playoffs couldn’t have played out any worse for the Boston Red Sox.