BostonBruins.com – For much of this season, the B’s have relied on the lines anchored by David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron for offense. But, part of what has made the Bruins so good over the past three seasons is a balanced offensive attack, with all lines chipping in. And that's exactly what they got in Saturday's 3-0 win over the Flyers.
To start the season, the line centered by Chris Kelly hadn't been putting up points on the scoresheet as often as in the past. The shots were there, and the help both on the faceoff dot and on the penalty kill units, but the back of the net was tougher to find.
Last season, Kelly and linemate Rich Peverley ranked seventh and eighth on the Bruins, respectively, in scoring. Kelly tallied career highs in goals (20) and points (39), while Peverley had a 11-31–41 line. Both sported sky-high plus/minus numbers, as well – Kelly was at plus-33, good for fourth in the NHL, and Peverley came finished with a plus-20 rating.
Kelly currently is a minus-6, with two goals and four assists, while Peverley has potted three goals and four assists, and sits at a minus-8.
In Saturday’s win against the Philadelphia Flyers, the line showed its offensive potential, as Kelly scored his second goal of the season – and first since February 24 – with Peverley, and recent call-up Jordan Caron, providing the assists.
If the line can begin to produce more and shore up their defensive game, Kelly knows it will give the B’s back their trademark depth.
“For sure,” said Kelly, following practice at Ristuccia Arena on Sunday, on if it is important for his line to contribute. “There's no secret that our top two lines have done all the scoring. We're in the situation we are because they've been producing.
“It was nice that Soupy's [Gregory Campbell’s] line and my line were able to contribute and maybe take a little weight off those guys' shoulders for a game," he said, on both he and Paille putting goals past Ilya Bryzgalov with full line efforts. "Hopefully that continues.”
And Kelly was able to walk out of TD Garden Saturday night confident and satisfied about his game.
“We've been pretty positive,” Kelly said of his line. “It was nice to leave the rink with a bit of a smile on our face and feel good about the way we played.
“We expect a lot out of ourselves," the center added. "Team success is the most important success, but you want to contribute. You don't want to make anyone feel that you're letting them down, make other guys have to do more or pull more of the weight than they should because, for whatever reason, the bounces aren't going your way.
“It was nice to feel good about our game.”
The centerman didn’t want to get too high, however, acknowledging that it was just one game.
“I thought we played well,” he said. “Throughout the night we had some pretty good offensive time, some pretty good chances. It was nice to score, but it's one [game], there's still lots of games to be played. It's something, as a line, that we can build off of.”
The Bruins have now won 26 games in a row, in which Kelly has scored a goal - a pretty startling statistic, whether its coincidence or not.
“I heard that stat,” he smiled. “I guess I need to score more, every game - if I got two [now], maybe next game."
The line of Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton, and Daniel Paille was able to add a goal board against the Flyers as well. Even if the main job of the line is to provide energy and a hard-checking game, Head Coach Claude Julien has liked the play of that line over the past few games, after they, too, were not producing as much early this season.
And the more they can chip in offensively, the better it is for the B's.
“They're getting a few more even shifts because they're playing better,” said Coach Julien. “At the beginning of the year, we weren't getting what we thought they were capable of, which we've seen in the past. But, their game is coming around and it's a good time for it too because all of those games forces me to use them more - which is a benefit to our hockey club right now."
"They've been good the last three games, more to the image we think they're capable of giving us."