|Chris Kelly’s injury is Max Talbot’s opportunity||11.04.15 at 4:12 pm ET|
Hockey is a humbling sport, and Max Talbot was reminded of that last week when he revisited a part of his career that he figured was in his past.
For the first time since April of 2006, the 30-year-old Talbot played three games in three nights. The reason he’d gone so long without doing so is because the CBA doesn’t allow it to happen in the NHL.
Three-in-threes are for AHLers only. For eight days recently — and certainly against his wishes — Talbot was an AHL player.
Having been in the NHL for a long time with success — Talbot’s best-known for scoring the only two goals of the Penguins‘ Cup-clinching Game 7 win over the Red Wings in 2009 — Talbot had every right to be upset with the move, which could be seen coming when he cleared waivers prior to the season. Ever the optimist, Talbot chose positivity over being a grumpy has-been playing in the minors.
“[It was] unusual; I’ve been playing in [the NHL] for 10, 11 years, but at the same time, it was good for me,” Talbot said upon being recalled to the Bruins on Wednesday. “I skated three games in three nights, a lot of ice time, played different positions, different circumstances, power play, PK and it felt good to play, for sure.”
Talbot wasn’t playing in Boston ‘ he dressed for just two games this season prior to being sent down ‘ so the assignment to Providence allowed him to at least keep the rust off. Playing on different lines and seeing some time with rookie sensation Frank Vatrano, Talbot had four points (all assists) in his three games with Providence.
Furthermore, he didn’t seem too sour about being there.
“He’s a good pro,” Alexander Khokhlachev, who was still down in Providence last week, said of Talbot. “He understands everything. He’s a really good player and has a lot of experience, so he knows what to do and how to do it.”
Now the Bruins will need Talbot, as he’s quickly gone from a spare part to a potential solution to the loss of Chris Kelly. With Kelly out for at least the rest of the regular season, Talbot is a top candidate to take on Kelly’s responsibilities as a bottom six wing/center option and reliable penalty killer. On the season, only Patrice Bergeron has spent more time on the penalty kill among Bruins forwards than Kelly.
‘You lose Kelly, you lose a good penalty killer,’ Claude Julien said Wednesday. ‘We brought in Max Talbot because No. 1 he is a penalty killer. No. 2, he’s a great veteran. He’s a great leader. He comes and he plays hard every night.
“Somewhere along the way, you find ways to compensate for Kelly’s loss, and Max is our answer right now to come in and help us out in that area.”
Talbot’s Bruins career has been odd to this point since being acquired at last season’s trade deadline, but if the veteran wants to improve his odds of staying in the NHL beyond this season, Kelly’s absence will provide him the opportunity to improve his stock.
“I’m going to do whatever they ask me to do here and work hard,” Talbot said. “If I get into games, I’ll play hard and do what I’ve been doing for 11 years. I’m not trying to play like Kells plays or like anybody else. I’m going to play like Max Talbot can play. That’s all I can do.”
The Bruins made a predictable move Wednesday, recalling forward Max Talbot in wake of Chris Kelly‘s at-least-regular-season-ending femur fracture.
Talbot, 31, was sent to Providence on Oct. 27 and had four assists in three AHL games this season. He dressed in only two games for Boston this season before being sent down. It was likely that he would eventually be sent down at some point, as he cleared waivers prior to the start of the season.
The recall of Talbot makes sense given that like Kelly, he’s a veteran bottom-sixer who can kill penalties. The Bruins also have Alexander Khokhlachev on their roster playing in place of David Pastrnak, who is dealing with a bruised foot.
Kelly was scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday after suffering his injury on his first shift of Tuesday’s loss to the Stars. His recovery is expected to take six-to-eight months.
|5 things we learned as Chris Kelly injury overshadows Tyler Seguin hat trick||11.03.15 at 9:42 pm ET|
Loui Eriksson scored a pair of goals, but it was Tyler Seguin who won the battle of once-traded-for-one-another forwards Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Seguin scored a hat trick in a 5-3 Stars win, which ended a seven-game points streak for the Bruins (6-0-1). With the regulation loss, the Bruins are 6-4-1 on the season.
Eriksson’s second goal cut into what was a three-goal lead for Dallas in the third period, but the B’s were unable to cap the comeback with Tuukka Rask pulled.
The Bruins now will go on a difficult road trip that will see them face the Capitals, Habs and Islanders.
Here are four more things we learned Tuesday:
KELLY OUT 6-8 MONTHS
The Bruins haven’t gotten too much bad news of late, so here’s some awful news: Chris Kelly is out six to eight months after suffering a left femur fracture on his first shift of the game.
The injury seemed to be of non-contact variety, as Kelly took some contact in the midsection from Colton Sceviour before going down to the ice awkwardly as his knee bent in odd fashion. He stayed down on the ice for several minutes before being helped off the ice by trainers and Zdeno Chara.
|Chris Kelly out 6-8 months with left femur fracture||at 7:21 pm ET|
[UPDATE: 9:30 p.m.] The red-hot Bruins got a bucket of cold water dumped on them early in Tuesday’s game against the Stars, as Chris Kelly suffered a left femur fracture on his first shift of the game and will miss six to eight months.
Kelly suffered the injury on his first shift of the game, falling awkwardly to the ice after light contact from Colton Sceviour. He remained on the ice for several minutes, with trainers tending to his left knee before he was eventually helped off the ice by trainers and Zdeno Chara. He was then transported to Mass General hospital. He’ll undergo on Wednesday.
‘ Ian McLaren (@iancmclaren) November 4, 2015
Alexander Khokhlachev was recalled on Tuesday could remain in the lineup when David Pastrnak returns. The B’s could also recall Max Talbot, who was sent to Providence last week.
The 34-year-old Kelly is in the last year of his contract with the Bruins.
|Bruins blown leads a troubling trend||10.22.15 at 8:49 am ET|
The so-called most dangerous lead in hockey, the two-goal advantage, used to be downright safe for the Bruins to the tune of a 158-9-7 record over the past four seasons. But, with three of their first six games this season featuring blown two-goal leads, the B’s are quickly rekindling fear about the old hockey adage.
Wednesday night at TD Garden, the Bruins enjoyed a 4-2 lead heading to the third period, but watched their potential two-point reward slice in half as the Flyers came back for a 5-4 victory in overtime.
A 2-0 second period lead over Tampa Bay on October 12 at the Garden also ended in defeat for Boston this year, and a lost 3-1 third period lead on October 17 in Arizona was restored to a win thanks only to the Bruins white-hot power play. There was no such salvation on Wednesday.
“We have to play with more composure when we score a goal or get scored on,” said team captain Zdeno Chara. “[We have] some mental breaks like that. Things that are easy to be corrected. Just have to work harder and take pride in winning the battles.”
Lost puck battles were the theme of head coach Claude Julien‘s critique of the Flyers’ loss.
“We played a light game,” Julien said. “We had too many guys with light sticks, too many guys playing a light game. It’s unacceptable. What happened tonight we probably deserved. [Philadelphia] was the hungrier team. We didn’t respond well. A lot of guys would just go into battle, take a swing at the puck, and curl the other way. Again, that’s not the way we play and it’s not the way we’re going to accept players to play on our team.”
On the bright side for the Bruins, goal scoring has been plentiful to put some leads in place. Boston has netted 18 goals over their last four games. But the 2-1-1 record that’s resulted over that span has left a feeling of missed opportunities.
“When you score four goals you should have more than enough to win the game,” said Patrice Bergeron, who added two more points against Philadelphia to give him seven (four goals, three assists) through six games played. “Too many slow reactions defensively and lack of communication. Poor decisions. It ends up hurting us big time.”
Bergeron’s colleague Chris Kelly, whose shorthanded tally gave Boston a 3-2 edge on the Flyers in the second period, agreed.
“We mismanaged the puck, especially in the third [period],” Kelly said. “A team that has capable scorers like [Philadelphia has], it didn’t take much, a couple turnovers and misplays and they tied it up pretty quickly. It’s a combination of things. It’s about managing the puck, [not] putting the other guys in a tough spot changing, and maybe not changing at the right times. Little things. It’s the combinations of a lot of little things that lead to a goal. That was the case, especially their fourth goal, the [Wayne] Simmonds goal.”
“The effort is there,” Kelly continued. “It’s just focus needs to be sharper throughout the course of 60 minutes. There’s times in all four home games where we’ve played extremely well and done a lot of good things, just to maintain that composure for 60 minutes seems to be an issue right now.”
|Bruins roster projection: Which forward is odd man out?||09.27.15 at 11:19 pm ET|
With another round of cuts in the books, here’s a (still somewhat early) roster projection for the Bruins:
Forwards (13): Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Ryan Spooner, Chris Kelly, Brad Marchand, Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Zac Rinaldo, Loui Eriksson, David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, Max Talbot, Joonas Kemppainen
Boston’s top nine forwards (in no particular order/alignment) are already locked in. It’s the fourth line and 13th forward where things get tricky.
A line of Chris Kelly between Zac Rinaldo and Max Talbot could potentially be infuriating to play against (Kelly gets under his opponents’ skin enough to draw a good number of undisciplined penalties, Talbot is a pest and Rinaldo is Rinaldo), but it would lack skill. The B’s could try Alexander Khokhlachev on the fourth line to remedy that, but that likely wouldn’t happen unless the B’s were to trade Kelly, who is due $3 million against the cap.
Given what a tough time veteran forwards had finding jobs this summer, the guess is the Bruins would have difficulty trading the 34-year-old center this time of year even if they wanted to.
As such, assume for now that Kelly isn’t going anywhere and that Khokhlachev is the odd man out. Kelly and Talbot provide upgrades over Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille, so the B’s should hope to ice a better fourth line than they had last season.
Pushing for a job, however, is Kemppainen, a defensive forward who comes to the NHL as a 27-year-old after playing his entire professional career in Finland. To this point, Kemppainen has been put on lines this preseason with Rinaldo and Talbot more than Kelly has. That could simply be because the Bruins feel they already know what they have in Kelly, though giving him some reps with Rinaldo couldn’t hurt.
Early guess at lines: Read the rest of this entry »
|Slide to the left: Chris Kelly ready for another season of mixing and matching||09.22.15 at 1:25 pm ET|
“I didn’t play center until I got to the NHL,” the veteran forward said. “They ask, ‘Can you play center?’ and you say, ‘Absolutely.’”
Kelly, who was drafted as a left wing, was moved to center because he was on a line of three wingers: himself, Brian McGrattan and Vaclav Varada.
Ten years later, Kelly’s situation has been reversed: He’s a longtime center who has spent ample time at wing on a line full of pivots. Entering this season, he figures to find himself on a line with at least one other center again. Where he plays, however, is up in the air.
Kelly says he has never played a traditional left wing in the NHL. When he was moved back to left wing in Ottawa, he was playing with a very similar player in Antoine Vermette. The two shared center responsibilities, something that came in handy when Kelly was given a similar task with Carl Soderberg. Though Soderberg was the de facto center on his line with Kelly and Loui Eriksson, Kelly often helped out with draws and took on the center’s responsibilities in the defensive zone.
So far in training camp, Kelly has gotten reps at both left wing and center. If the B’s use him as a left wing, he could be an option for Ryan Spooner’s line, which would allow him to aid Spooner the way he did with Soderberg. So far, however, Spooner has played exclusively with Jimmy Hayes on the left and Brett Connolly on the right. It’s the one line that has gone unchanged thus far in training camp.
Kelly could also center the fourth line, something he did down the stretch last season. Such a scenario could see another center moved to wing in Max Talbot. Julien enjoys playing Kelly with other centers and Kelly likes skating with other pivots, whether it’s helping them with defensive responsibilities or giving his line another option on faceoffs.
“It’s a lot easier to go from center to wing than from wing to center,” Kelly said. “It’s a different game and I think, at the end of the day, if things can be made easier for everyone, that’s what you want to do. The less working you have to do out there and thinking and just reacting, I think it makes everyone that much better.”
Because Kelly’s $3 million cap hit is high for a forward who doesn’t score many goals (he had seven in 80 games last season), he’s an easy target for casual hockey observers. Even if he winds up being a fourth-liner this season, Julien knows what he’s getting no matter where Kelly lines up.
“Yes, he’s not that top-line player that scores goals and everything, but [for] a team to succeed, [it] needs a little bit of everything,” Julien said. “He’s certainly got some versatility, where he can play either position.”
With Kelly set to turn 35 in November, he’s seen plenty in his time in the NHL. As far as mixing and matching positions goes, this coming season could be more of the same.