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Chris Kelly to become grumpier old man with 500th NHL game 11.07.11 at 12:07 pm ET
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In the Bruins’ media guide, Chris Kelly put that the one word he would use to describe himself is “grumpy.”

Chris Kelly will play in his 500th career game Monday. (AP)

Now, Kelly has yet to reveal that characteristic in his dealings with the media, but on Monday, he’ll take one step toward being a grumpier old man. Monday’s tilt with the Islanders will be the 500th game of Kelly’s career.

“I didn’t know it was 500. My dad actually reminded me yesterday,” Kelly said Monday. “It’s always nice to hit a milestone like that.”

The soon-to-be 31-year-old is in his first full season with the Bruins. Acquired last February from the Senators in exchange for a second-round pick, Kelly fit in quickly with the Bruins’ tight-knit group, so well, in fact, that when Mark Recchi retired, it was he and Andrew Ference who inherited the ‘A.’

“He’s wearing an ‘A’ because he’s a good leader and also a very well-respected teammate,” Claude Julien said Monday of Kelly. “He’s got a lot of qualities that when we got him, we knew about. All he did was reinforce those.”

In his career, Kelly has 80 goals and 108 assists for 188 points. He will center Benoit Pouliot and Jordan Caron Monday.

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Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘We needed a little shakeup’ 10.21.11 at 10:47 am ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning for his weekly appearance. After the Bruins’ dominating 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs Thursday night, Ference talked about Boston’s line changes and improvement on the power play.

“It’s one of those things, the power play was actually working pretty good, we were getting the puck around, we just weren’t putting it in,” Ference said. “We were working towards larger things on the power play and we felt that it was doing a lot of good things, so it was a matter of time.”

The Bruins scored twice on the power play against Toronto, with Ference assisting on one of those goals. In addition to better play from special teams, the Bruins also benefited from some line changes made by coach Claude Julien in recent days. The top line of Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin was particularly effective against the Maple Leafs. Ference said that the line changes helped the Bruins get back to focusing on the simple parts of the game.

“I think it helped, it energized guys I think a bit, just to give them a little kick in the pants,” Ference said. “I think when you change linemates, you get out of your comfort zone a bit. You really just concentrate on doing simple things, like skating hard, getting to the net, throwing pucks at the net.

‪”It was a good move. We needed a little shakeup. Guys were a little bit stale with the old lines and you can always go back to them, but I think just letting guys concentrate on the simple things really helps.”‬

Ference also talked about emotions running high in the Bruins’ loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday and forward Shawn Thornton‘s value to the team.

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On Boston’s penalty-filled loss to the Hurricanes: “I think that game, the emotion was a byproduct of the frustration. When our team’s good, the emotion’s just a part of our game. It’s not forced, it’s just there. I think that I mentioned after the game, the game of hockey within its rules allows us to be very physical, allows us to be emotional without hitting the box all night. When our team’s playing well, sure there are fights here and there, but we’re just a physical team all the time. We’re always hitting, always forechecking, always giving teams no room. … In a game where there’s a bunch of fights and a bunch of penalties and it’s just kind of chaotic with the physical stuff, that’s going to happen once in a while but that stuff’s definitely not something that we define ourselves as.”

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Chris Kelly ready for top-six duties, but not ready to panic 10.20.11 at 12:44 pm ET
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Bruins alternate captain Chris Kelly has been on some Ottawa teams that have gotten off to slow starts. With all due respect to the Ottawa squad that began last season 1-4-1, there’s probably a different feeling when it’s the defending Stanley Cup champions that is struggling out of the gate.

Chris Kelly knows the Bruins are capable of better performances. (AP)

“We need to go out and play well,” Kelly said of the 2-4-0 bruins. “I think people quickly forget that you won the Stanley Cup. They come out and they want to win. I think we’re going to get everyone’s best game, and we have so far. We just need to answer the bell a little better.”

With the changes to the lines made by Claude Julien, Kelly has gone from being the team’s third-line center to becoming a top-six forward, as he has centered Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin the last two days in practice. Kelly has plenty of experience playing with Seguin since coming to Boston, as he played with the youngster last season and began this season on a line with the 19-year-old, but Thursday will mark the first time he’s been on a regular line with Lucic. He likes the rapport he’s developed with Lucic in his limited time working with him in practice.

“Looch plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Kelly said. “He’s up and down the ice, he plays his position, he works hard on both ends. I don’t see it being much of a problem playing with him.”

Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Hurricanes has easily been the ugliest showing from the B’s this season, as they lost their composure and saw them play themselves right out of the game with unnecessary penalties.

“I think you always want to bounce back from losses,” Kelly said. “This is a character locker room. I was fortunate to come into this locker room. They showed that [before I was here] and we need to show that. I don’t see that being that different tonight.”

The B’s will have their work cut out for them Thursday. The Maple Leafs have yet to lose a game in regulation (4-0-1), while the B’s are merely trying to turn a corner after a disappointing start to the season. As ugly as Tuesday’s loss is, Kelly looks at the character of the Bruins’ room and the fact that the season is young and feels there’s only reason for optimism.

“I think we’ve also done some things right, but there’s a lot of things that we want to do better,” Kelly said. “… We’re six games in, and there’s 82 games for a reason. We all know we can play better.”

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Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly to share Mark Recchi’s old ‘A’ 10.06.11 at 12:07 pm ET
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Either Mark Recchi had some inside information, or he’s incredibly insightful.

The Bruins on Thursday announced that Andrew Ference and Chris Kelly will share the ‘A’ last worn by the retired winger. Ference and Kelly were the two guys Recchi named first when asked Tuesday about the letter.

Ference will wear the letter for home games, while Kelly will wear it on the road. The two will switch halfway through the season, with Kelly getting it in home games.

The Bruins had the options of giving the letter to one player or sharing it with multiple guys. In the end, they chose to go with two players, and they’re confident they picked the right two.

“We didn’t think we’d get as much impact with just moving it around all the time,” Julien said. “There’s got to be some sort of stability, but our leadership group remains bigger than the letters that are out there. We’re going to take advantage of that inside the dressing room.”

Ference has been with the Bruins since 2007, while Kelly was acquired from the Senators last February. The Bruins didn’t let the fact that Kelly has less than a season of experience with the team get in the way of him being recognized for his leadership.

“He was known as a great leader in Ottawa, but he sort of felt his way through before he started showing those qualities to the extreme,” Julien said. “In the playoffs, it was pretty obvious what kind of a leader he was. Our guys and the coaching staff recognized that.”

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Deep Cup run makes Rich Peverley’s first camp with Bruins easier 09.20.11 at 10:54 am ET
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Training camp can be a feeling-out process of sorts for players participating in their first camp with a team. Even for returning players who had been acquired during the previous season, starting a full season with the team can still include some learning and adjustments from both a hockey standpoint and a comfort standpoint.

Rich Peverley was a key part of the Bruins' championship run. (AP)

Take Dennis Seidenberg last year. Acquired in March of 2010, he was coming off a left wrist injury and had missed the last four games of the regular season and all of the playoffs. By the time he had entered his first camp as a member of the Bruins, he said he felt “awful,” but that’s likely because he was trying to shake off rust after a summer of rehabbing. OK, bad example.

Still, there is something to be said for returning players entering their first camp with a team. Rich Peverley has been in that situation twice now, and freely admits that he was still getting a grasp of things in Atlanta in the fall of 2009 after being claimed off waivers by the Thrashers in January of the previous season.

While that continued learning process is something Peverley experienced the last time he had his first camp with a team, he’s encountered no such thing in Boston. A deep run in the playoffs culminating in a Stanley Cup victory and familiarity with Claude Julien‘s system are responsible for that.

“This is a very close team, and we were quite close during the playoff run last year,” Peverley said. “I got to know a lot of guys. I’m definitely a lot more comfortable [now] than I was that year in Atlanta, just as far as knowing the guys and knowing the coaching staff and everything.”

Peverley began last season playing under head coach Craig Ramsay, a former assistant of Julien’s in Boston, so he didn’t run into too many roadblocks when grasping the Bruins’ system after being acquired in February. He finished the regular season with a modest seven points (four goals, three assists) in 23 games, but was a big contributor in the postseason. He scored two goals (including what was technically the game-winner) in the Bruins’ 4-0 victory in Game 4 over the Canucks to even the Stanley Cup finals at two games apiece and answered the call when he was summoned to the first line in wake of Nathan Horton‘s season-ending concussion.

When all was said and done, Peverley had been used regularly as a first-liner, second-liner and third-liner at various points of the postseason, and it brought him and the Bruins the Stanley Cup. Peverley made all his adjustments to Boston during that time, and after winning the Cup with the Bruins hardly feels like this is his first camp with the team.

“Absolutely,” he said to the idea of the playoff run making him better immersed in all things Bruins. “Every team that wins is a close-knit group, and it shows. Everybody cares for each other, works for each other, and it was no different last year. We did everything together, we worked hard together, and obviously we won together.”

Julien is happy to see that last season’s newcomers, Peverley and center Chris Kelly, have got the hang of things, and what the end result was in June. That isn’t to say he’s surprised, though.

“They know what we expect and that showed in the playoffs, too,” Julien said. “They just played the game that our team was to play and they did it in good fashion. It’s their first camp with us, but I don’t think it’s a shock to see how we’re doing things or how we’re expected to play because nothing has really changed.

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What will Tyler Seguin do in his second year? 08.24.11 at 4:29 am ET
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Tyler Seguin showed flashes of brilliance as a rookie, but he has a long way to go to be a regular contributor in Boston. (AP)

With captains’ practices just two short weeks from commencing, WEEI.com will be looking at the questions facing the defending Stanley Cup champions in the 2011-12 season.

This time last year, there were plenty of questions on the mind of any Bruins fan. Much like the 2003 Red Sox, the 2009-10 Bruins left a bad taste in fans’ mouths from the heartbreaking fashion in which they were eliminated the season before. As a result, the B’s went out and added a couple of big names (Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin) with the hope that the team that came so close to the conference finals the year before was just a player or two from something special.

So, with all of the anticipation for the 2010-11 campaign came plenty of questions. Would Tim Thomas bounce back from a subpar season, and would hip surgery make a difference? (That one was answered pretty quickly.) Then there was the question of whether Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler would turn in performances better than their underwhelming 2009-10 campaigns. While Wheeler wasn’t around to completely answer the question, Ryder gave as strong a “kind of” as one could by being a healthy scratch at points of a regular season that matched his 18 goals of a season prior, while also being one of the team’s playoff heroes. People wondered how Horton might go about adjusting to a hockey market, whether Claude Julien was the right coach for the team and whether Tuukka Rask could once again be the best goalie (statistically speaking) in the league.

Many of those questions were answered emphatically. Now with a Cup ring thanks largely to his decision to go with a defensive super pair of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, Julien not only is the right coach for the team but should be considered one of the best coaches in the league. Thomas was the best goaltender this side of any body of water, Ryder and Wheeler have moved on, and Horton played his best when it mattered most. Now that last year’s questions have been answered and captains’ practices are a short two weeks away, it’s worth taking a look at what questions surround the Bruins as they begin their title defense.

First up is a question that will likely be discussed plenty leading into the season: What will Seguin do in his second year?

There are several truths regarding Seguin. He’s the Bruins’ most talented player. He’s essentially their only hope when it comes to those pesky shootouts. He’ll always be compared to Phil Kessel. And, until he is one of the 10 best scorers in the league, people will question the reason why, and such questions will likely be accompanied by some sort of finger-pointing at the coach.

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Andrew Ference has inkling he and Joe Corvo have at least one thing in common 07.20.11 at 3:10 pm ET
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When players begin showing up for captains practices and eventually training camp as the summer winds down and the preseason begins, Andrew Ference, like the other returning players from the Stanley Cup champions, will have a couple of new faces to meet.

Joe Corvo (Canada.com)

Ference will have a new fellow blueliner in defenseman Joe Corvo, for whom the B’s traded a fourth-round pick to the Hurricanes the day Tomas Kaberle signed with Carolina. Ference may not know Corvo personally, but he knows they’ll have a good ice-breaker for when they meet.

“I know he’s got a lot of tattoos, so we’ll be able to swap,” Ference said with a laugh.

Ference, the team’s resident tattoo aficionado, flew his tattoo artist in from Calgary so he and his teammates could commemorate their Stanley Cup championship with ink on breakup day. While many players discussed what types of tattoos they were considering that day, the final tally of players to go through with it was a measly seven, including Ference, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. Ference noted that other teammates simply got them on other days, such as Chris Kelly, whom Ference said was set to get his this week.

While a simple google search will show that Seguin and Marchand (the latter of whom rarely wore a shirt in the week that followed the Cup win) got “Stanley Cup Champions Boston Bruins 6-15-11″ on the side of their ribs, Ference went with a very plain black-and-white spoked B on his right arm.

“Some guys got the writing, and I went with the B,” Ference said. “I don’t know. I left room for more years though.”

Ference will also meet Benoit Pouliot, with whom he’s already had at least one dealing. It was Ference who sparred with Pouliot in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals after the then-Canadiens forward attempted to hit Johnny Boychuk high on a dangerous play in the corner. Ference isn’t concerned about having any difficulty befriending who was once the enemy, citing the team’s ability to do it in the past.

“We got along fine with Michael Ryder,” Ference pointed out, as Ryder spent his entire career in the Montreal organization before becoming a popular guy in the Bruins’ dressing room.

While there are similarities between the two situations of Ryder and Pouliot in that both came to the Bruins after playing for the Habs (Ryder signed a three-year, $12 million deal with the B’s back in the summer of 2008), one would generally be far more skeptical of Pouliot today than they were of Ryder in 2008. Ryder was an established scorer in the NHL, while Pouliot, to borrow a bit of logic from Jack Edwards, has been nothing short of a fantastic bust since being drafted fourth overall by the Wild in 2005. For Pouliot to do anything like Ryder on the stat sheet would make the $1.1 million they dropped on the 24-year a sound investment.

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