BOSTON -- Chris Kelly
has only played 36 regular season games for the Boston Bruins, but as he stands on the precipice of the NHL's 500 games-played mark, the Black & Gold count themselves lucky to have the forward on their roster.
Beyond Kelly's unique ability to play up-and-down the lineup, the most-of-the-time center has put up decent in-season numbers with Boston with 7-12-19 totals.
However, Bruins fans will remember Chris' spectacular spring of 2011 when he put up 5-8-13 totals in 25 Stanley Cup Championship playoff games.
Today, Head Coach Claude Julien ticked off Kelly's most important qualities as he spoke to the press prior to Monday night's Bruins vs. Islanders tilt in the TD Garden.
"Well consistency is one of them. Leadership is another one. I think his hockey sense is great. Reads plays well. Adapts well as far as whether you want him to play a really solid defensive role or you need him to give you a little more offense. He’s capable to do both," said Julien. "He’s a versatile player who can play center or wing.
"And again I've said that before -- he’s wearing an 'A' because he’s a good leader and also a very well respected teammate.
"So he’s got a lot of qualities that when we got him we knew about, so all he did was reinforce all those things we heard about."
Another B's leader, defenseman Dennis Seidenberg
, said as much when he talked about Seidenberg after the Boston's morning skate.
"Well, real big leadership," was Seidenberg's answer when asked what Kelly brings to the Bruins.
"Not just on the ice, and also off the ice," he continued. "He's really vocal in the locker room and on the ice I think he's a really strong two way player.
"And it's always good to have those guys on your team that work hard...at both ends of the ice."
Reflecting on his 464 games with the Senators and his trade to Boston, Kelly said his start in the Ottawa organization was integral to his success.
"I spent four years in the minors including the lockout year and a lot of teams probably would've given up on a player of my caliber or capabilities, but they stuck by me and gave me an opportunity to play in this league," said Kelly. "I kind of took advantage of it and found a niche, whatever it was killing penalties, playing the fourth line -- just being kind of a team guy."
No doubt with the B's Stanley Cup championship in mind, Kelly added, "It's gotten better and better every year."