Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 4/11/13
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.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Pablo Sandoval apologizes for comments about Giants

LeBron James seems to respond to Kyrie Irving's trade request

Senator jokes that President Trump should nominate Tom Brady for ambassadorship

Report: Cubs interested in Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy

Marc-Andre Fleury took Stanley Cup on a road trip, protected it well

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Cardinals say Carson Palmer, Larry Fitzgerald won't play in Hall of Fame Game

Chiefs LB Tamba Hali goes on Twitter rant, seemingly wants out

O.J. Simpson still invited to attend Hall of Fame ceremonies

Carson Palmer threw football so hard that David Johnson needed stitches

WATCH: 49ers and Seahawks players working out together

WATCH: Vince Carter throws out first pitch for 'SagerStrong Night'

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

Best of Yardbarker: General managers take the spotlight

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

The unexpected rise of the Connecticut Sun

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

Kicking It: USMNT struggles to find consistency in Gold Cup as World Cup qualifying nears

Three Up, Three Down: The Dodgers are a complete juggernaut right now

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

Who won the Open Championship in the year you were born?

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

Box Score 7/21: Stay cool this weekend sports fans

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

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 Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Sports & Politics Intersect: Trump casts shadow over U.S. Women's Open

The National League Wild Card is suddenly relevant again

The 'Pay that man his money' quiz

BIG3 Week 5: Pivotal make-or-break weekend in Chicago

The 'Let's show a little love for James Jones' quiz

Making an NFL GM change in the summer has its benefits

The 'Yoan Moncada era starts now' quiz

The Orioles need to unwind past deals if they are going to rebuild

BIG3 Referee Hotline Bling: Sam Hinkie is calling the shots

The 'No one is betterer than Roger Federer' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker