By Allan Muir
I ran into a member of a Western Conference coaching staff at a pee-wee hockey game last summer. While watching his kid’s team whip mine, we got to talking about unrestricted free agents his team might be interested in. “I’ll tell you who I really would have liked to get,” he said. “Chris Kelly. The guy plays the game the right way.”
The Bruins understood that as well and re-signed the versatile forward before he hit the market. Kelly might not get a lot of press (alright, he doesn’t get any press), but he has been a glue guy for that team ever since arriving from Ottawa. He competes, he wins faceoffs, he’s great on the PK and he can chip in offensively. Guy does it all.
That’s why the news today that he was lost indefinitely after fracturing his shinbone in a violent but accidental collision with good friend Chris Neil of the Senators signifies a major loss to the B’s. Best-case estimates suggest he could be back in six weeks, which would be just ahead of the playoffs, but there’s no guarantee. And being off skates that long? He’s going to be a step slow for a bit.
For now, Boston will call on Rich Peverley to center the third line. He performed well in the loss to the Pens last night, winning 10 of 13 draws. Carl Soderberg could help. He’ll arrive as soon as his team is eliminated from the Swedish Elite League playoffs. Top prospect Ryan Spooner will also get a look–he was recalled on an emergency basis today.
But just in case they falter, you have to think GM Peter Chiarelli is already looking for some insurance for a line that only recently was rounding into form after a slow start.