Kelly's aquisition to shake up Bruins third line

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Kelly's aquisition to shake up Bruins third line

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made sure to mention Chris Kelly's versatility during Tuesday night's press conference. He also made it a point to acknowledge he wants Kelly centering the team's third line, and looks to move rookie Tyler Seguin back to the wing.

Since Boston's "third line" has, of late, consisted of Seguin centering Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, it would seem someone has to either be bumped to the fourth line, become a healthy scratch, or get traded.

The latter may eventually occur, but as of right now, coach Claude Julien has a decision to make with what his GM called the "third line."

But that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

"A coach doesn't mind having that extra player, because it just creates that competition and gets players out of their comfort zone," said Julien after Wednesday's practice at Ristuccia Arena. "That's never a bad thing."

Kelly -- a Canadian-born player coming from the Ottawa Senators -- was expected to have some minor visa issues, and was not present at Bruins practice on Wednesday, so the team's third line remained the same.

Afterwards, Wheeler said he had "no idea" when asked if he was preparing to play on a line with Kelly in the middle. His thinking was that that decision would be made on Thursday, prior to the Bruins' game in New York against the Islanders.

Knowing Kelly's versatility, Wheeler had no idea the decision to put the newly-acquired centerman in the middle of his line was already talked about.

"I know he's a really solid two-way player," said Wheeler. "Playing against him, he's a guy that, when he's on the ice, you know he's not going to be easy to get scoring chances against. He's very responsible defensively. At the same time, he's capable of producing offensively as well. So I think he's a guy that fits into what we try to do here extremely well, a guy that I think can be really valuable for us down the stretch."

Julien said he was unsure if Kelly's visa issues would prevent him from missing Thursday's game in New York, but did say that when he does arrive with the club, they'll keep him at his normal position, at center.

"The number one place you'd want to put him, would be at center," said Julien. "He's played there most of his career. And the versatility certainly helps. Right now, with Savard being out, and maybe looking for a little bit more experience down the middle, I think that's probably the area we're going to be looking at."

"It's a great addition," said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who played with Kelly in Ottawa. "He's a hard-working player. He's a smart player. He always plays his role well, and for sure, he's going to give us more depth in the middle with the experience he has."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

Bruins' skid continues in 6-3 loss to Lightning

BOSTON – The Bruins are doing it again. 

With a team that was badly in need of a win, the Bruins couldn’t get any separation from the Tampa Bay Lightning before ultimately sagging in the third period on the way to a deflating 6-3 loss at TD Garden on Thursday night. 

It marks four losses in a row for the Black and Gold with Thursday night as the worst among them, and doesn’t extinguish any of the concerns that Boston is in another late-season tailspin. 

Jonathan Drouin beat Tuukka Rask with a shot from the face-off circle that dipped underneath his glove hand for the game-winner, and Nikita Kucherov added the final two goals to give him a hat trick for a Bolts team that snapped their own three-game losing streak. 

This game had all the warning signs after a nondescript first period with the Bruins giving up goals immediately after they scored three times in the second period. The first was a David Pastrnak power play strike for his 32ndof the season, and the Lightning struck 44 seconds later with a Brayden Point rebound score after a big breakdown by Boston’s best players on the ice. 

Zdeno Chara again gave the Bruins a short-lived lead on a shorthanded goal in the second period, but Tampa Bay responded with a blistering Nikita Kucherov one-timer just 24 seconds later with the Bolts still on the power play. Boston scored again on a Riley Nash wraparound bid that he threw off the diving Victor Hedman in the crease, and Boston had a brief one-goal lead once again. 

It was 1:35 later that Anton Stralman beat Rask high to the glove side on an odd-man rush and that set up a third period where Tampa Bay scored three unanswered goals and sent the Bruins to their fourth straight loss. 

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Report: Steelers' offer for Dont'a Hightower was bigger than Patriots'

Dont'a Hightower left money on the table in New York and in Pittsburgh, and instead took a smaller deal to return the New England Patriots, according to CBSSports' Jason La Canfora.

The Jets' offer was previously reported to be $12 million per year, including incentives. La Canfora reiterated that report. But he also detailed Pittsburgh's offer, as the Steelers also outbid the Patriots with over $9 million per year.

Instead, Hightower settled for $8.7 million per season with New England, and will play under Bill Belichick in a Patriots jersey for the sixth season in 2017.

Hightower traveled a great deal during free agency, and ended up garnering interest from the Steelers, Jets, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins.

The 27-year-old linebacker finished the 2016 season with 65 tackles tackles, 2.5 sacks, two pass deflections and one forced fumble. He also had a game-changing strip sack on Matt Ryan in Super Bowl LI that shifted the momentum of game.