Most days, Boston Bruins forward Chris Kelly
is known best as a defensive-minded center. However, this season the Hub of Hockey is also getting to see #23’s offensive capabilities.
“He’s probably one of our most consistent forwards this year and continues to impress on the stat sheet,” said Bruins Head Coach Claude Juilen of his center.
“We’re fortunate to have him playing this well and scoring that much for us.”
On Saturday, the B’s were fortunate once again as the veteran forward, who now owns a 9-7-16 line through 22 games, came up big in their 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
While not letting down on his defensive play, Kelly, the night's first star, registered both the game-tying goal and game-winning goals and continued to prove his all-around reliability.
The Bruins trailed 2-1 the opening period ended, but Kelly responded following the first intermission.
“I think everyone in this room knew that we didn't have our best effort in the first period and we could get better and not to dwell on the first 20,” explained the veteran.
Even when the B's went down a man six minutes into the second, the Boston center went on the ice with the usual mindset to quell a 5-on-4 advantage.
“Obviously your first job is to kill the penalty,” said the center, simply.
However, Kelly would do more than shut down the Jets power-play. After Rich Peverley
sped down the right hand side and curled in towards the Winnipeg net, Kelly noticed a vulnerable puck lying in the crease and fore-checked to the paint to bang it home.
“It was just sitting there, great job by Chris [Kelly] to drive the net,” said Peverley of his line-mate’s second shorthanded goal of the season.
But that wouldn't end Kelly's offensive contributions.
The game-tying tally saw its genesis in Peverley’s speed, but Just as the wing flew into the offensive zone, he dropped the puck to a trailing Benoit Pouliot
, who fed it across the slot to an open Kelly for a one-timer.
The tic-tac-toe play that put the Bruins up 3-2 made it hard for everyone not to notice that Kelly's trio is becoming a productive unit.
“I think the three of us are getting more familiar with one another,” said Kelly of his line. “It's a far cry from last year when Rich and I got to this team and things didn't go quite as we wanted it to early on.”
The off-season addition of Pouliot has only made things better.
“Benny's playing fantastic," said Kelly. "He's an easy guy to play with and a joy to play with right now.”
They're a joy to watch, too.
“That line is starting to give us some real good shifts,” explained Coach Julien. “I like what I see.” ---John Griffin