Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 11/14/14
The Bruins’ third line has been critiqued for much of the season, and for good reason. The line, which has seen plenty of changes and substitutions, just isn’t producing like it has in the past couple of seasons. That line took an even greater hit when Chris Kelly went down with a broken tibia last month in a game against the Ottawa Senators. While Kelly’s numbers are unlikely to raise any eyebrows, there’s no denying that he’s still a serviceable two-way center in the NHL. His absence may have been somewhat subtle, forgotten even at times. The veteran centerman returned to the lineup on Monday night, and his presence has been felt right away. Kelly hasn’t exactly torn things up since returning, but that’s never been his game. He continues to do the little things that don’t necessarily show up in the “G-A-P” columns, but  the things he does win games more often than not. The veteran was especially effective Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils. While there were plenty of things to call out and criticize on the Bruins’ side, there wasn’t much of anything to complain about in regards to Kelly’s game. He’s one of the club’s most important penalty killers, and that was evident Wednesday. Kelly helped the Bruins kill off all eight penalties the Bruins were assessed. Kelly played 6:47 of his 16:58 of ice time on the PK. He played an integral role in keeping the Devils off the board on the power play in the second period when he got enough of his stick on Patrik Elias‘ to keep the Devils forward from scoring. Kelly was at it again in the game’s final minute. The Devils, already on the power play, pulled Martin Brodeur to give themselves a 6-on-4. Kelly eventually broke up a pass across the slot before clearing his own crease to ensure the B’s could escape with the one-goal win. The penalty kill is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Kelly’s game. With Patrice Bergeron out, the Bruins’ faceoff aptitude takes a bit of a hit. However, Kelly is pulling his weight in his return to the dot. He won 12 of 19 draws Wednesday night, and he has won 57 percent of his faceoffs in the two games he’s played since returning. He also helps stabilize the Bruins down the middle, which is important right about now. It’s amazing how one big injury — like a concussion to Bergeron — can unsettle your lines. We saw in the couple of games between Bergeron’s injury and Kelly’s return how haywire things can go when there’s a lack of center depth. Just ask Tyler Seguin, who was clearly overwhelmed by moving to center in Bergeron’s absence. Things got so bad, in fact, that Claude Julien was forced to move Seguin back to wing Saturday night in Montreal. To accommodate that move, Julien had to move Jaromir Jagr down to a line with Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell, which doesn’t serve much purpose other than allowing Paille and Campbell to one day tell their grandkids they played on a line with Jagr. However, with Kelly returning, things have gotten straightened out some. Kelly served the last two games as a pivot for Paille and Seguin, which allowed Jagr to move back to a line with Brad Marchand and Campbell. All the Bruins have done since making those moves was combine to score 11 goals in two games. Julien is certainly taking note of having Kelly back in the fold. The Bruins coach called Kelly’s efforts “unbelievable” on Thursday morning. There are still plenty of things to improve upon for the Bruins right now, but getting Kelly back is certainly going to help.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jameis Winston cleared in code of conduct case

Sherman: Patrick Peterson would be benched on Seahawks

Fans struck by lightning after Buccaneers-Packers game

Report: Philip Rivers playing through painful back injury

Report: Bears could have interest in Jim Harbaugh

Report: Shanahan interested in coaching next season

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Michigan has its eye on several NFL coaches

Report: Titans, Jay Cutler have mutual interest in trade

Phillies GM told Ryan Howard team is better off without him

Report: Browns interested in drafting Marcus Mariota

Chargers keep playoff hopes alive with comeback win

Robin Lopez responds to Khloe Kardashian dating rumors

WATCH: Three players ejected after Giants-Rams fight

WATCH: Dominic Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

WATCH: Arian Foster throws TD pass, drops scoreboard taunt

WATCH: Johnny Manziel leaves with injury after taking big hit

NHL has warned 22 players about diving

Nick Mangold wears NYDP hat to honor fallen officers

Five things we learned from the first day of bowl games

WATCH: South Alabama coach bloodied after kick to the face

Dan Mullen wears funny 'Christmas Vacation' sweater

WATCH: Redskins FB gets in Eagles fan's face after TD

WATCH: Utah runs trick play on first offensive play of game

Mick Cronin misses game with unruptured aneurysm

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Raiola stomps on Bears player's ankle

Bears interested in Jim Harbaugh?

Shanahan to return to 2015?

Browns interested in drafting Mariota?

Mullen wears funny Christmas sweater

RG3 returning to Redskins?

Tom Izzo hot after bad loss

Kings, Nets talking Deron Williams trade

WATCH: DeSean mocks Eagles

Vick: Winston is the future of the NFL

No NFL team in LA next season?

UNC rocking Jordan-era throwbacks

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.