Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 10/17/14
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

Report: Rams considered favorites to move to LA

Kobe to Julius Randle: You’re an idiot if you (expletive) this up

Slava Voynov arrested on D.V. charge, suspended indefinitely

Report: Ray Rice could be reinstated within next month

Earl Thomas: Refs need to stay out of it and let us dominate

Browns lament ‘unacceptable’ loss to winless Jaguars

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Peyton Manning sets NFL touchdown passing record

Report: CJ Spiller suffers broken collarbone

DeMarco Murray sets record with another 100-yard game

Report: Things got 'ugly' in Bears' locker room after loss

Redskins bench Kirk Cousins for Colt McCoy

Rams beat Seahawks thanks to gutsy fake punt call

WATCH: Tennessee coach tried to trip Ole Miss player?

News station congratulates Gary Payton for breaking TD record

Did Sidney Crosby troll Flyers fans with Halloween costume?

Why Dan Mullen is not leaving Mississippi State

12 amazing stats from Week 7

World Series preview: Will Giants or Royals win it all?

NFL tweets graphic of recipients of Manning's 509 TD passes

Hockey fights of the week

10 takeaways from NFL Week 7

Video: Alec Burks breaks Kobe Bryant's ankles

WATCH: Sean Payton has tense exchange with reporter

Darnell Dockett mocks Raiders fans with whiteboard

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!

Tenn. coach tried to trip Ole Miss CB?

GGG continues his reign of terror

The 6 things that mattered this weekend in the premier league

News station congratulates Gary Payton for TD record

Ray Rice could be back by Week 10?

12 amazing stats from Week 7

World Series preview

Favre: I got calls about playing last season

10 takeaways from NFL Week 7

Report: Marshall calls out Jay Cutler

Darnell Dockett mocks Raiders fans

Brian Kelly unloads on officials

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.