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Bruins not taking Sabres lightly 02.08.12 at 1:11 pm ET
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BUFFALO — Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday that he’d like to see his team play better against non-playoff teams. The B’s will face one Wednesday in Buffalo, and the Sabres are desperately trying to climb up the standings to shake the “non-playoff team” label.

The Sabres were a tough team to project at the beginning of the season. They had spent money in the offseason, but there was still question as to whether they were deep enough to be a legitimate contender. Injuries and inconsistency have answered those questions, and Sabres are currently 14th in the Eastern Conference, just one point ahead of the last-place Hurricanes.

Yet Buffalo has picked it up of late, going 3-0-1 over its last four games to follow up a five-game losing streak. This might be the point in the season in which cellar-dwelling teams begin to embrace the role of “spoiler,” but when the Bruins look at the Sabres, they see a hungry team that wants to make up the 11 points that currently separate Buffalo from a playoff spot.

“There are obviously maybe some teams that are out of the playoff picture, but [Buffalo] is definitely not one of them,” Bruins center Chris Kelly said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “I think they’ve been playing well of late. They want to come out and play well, just like we do and they want to move up the standings, just like we do as well.”

The Bruins expect a hard game from the Lindy Ruff-less Sabres, but at this point in their schedule, they expect a hard game from every team they face.

“If you look, there’s a lot of three-point games. There’s no secret to that,” Kelly said. “Teams are bearing down, and if there’s a for at least one point, you’d better believe both teams are going to get that one point and they’re going to fight for that second point. There’s no easy points in the second half, and that hasn’t been a secret for years.”

The Bruins are 2-0-0 against the Sabres this season, and they hope to carry momentum from Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Capitals into Wednesday’s contest.

“Especially in the Washington game, I thought we played a consistent 60 minutes,” Kelly said. “For the most part, we were in control the entire game. We got back to doing those little things that make us successful, the attention to detail, a lot of things that maybe go unnoticed and don’t make the highlights, but are needed if you’re going to be successful.”

Based on the lines in Wednesday’s morning skate, Claude Julien is going to go with the same lines against the Sabres that he used against the Capitals. That means that Kelly will remain on the team’s top line between Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley.

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Chris Kelly on M&M: ‘I’d love to stay here’ 01.06.12 at 1:35 pm ET
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Chris Kelly becomes an unrestricted free agent at season's end. (AP)

With Brad Marchand sick and unable to make his weekly appearance on the Mut & Merloni show, fellow forward Chris Kelly filled in to talk about Thursday’s rout of the Flames and Saturday’s highly anticipated Stanley Cup finals rematch with the Canucks.

The Bruins continued their red-hot ways — nine wins in 10 games — with Thursday’s 9-0 rout of the Flames, and the balanced scoring throughout the lineup has been impressive.

“Every line goes out and plays hard,” Kelly said. “I’ve been on other teams that have been pretty deep and have had success, but not to this extent. Our first line all the way down to our fourth line, all lines play the exact same way and work hard and do their job defensively. Obviously, certain guys have more offensive abilities, but I think for the most part we go out and play the system and work hard.”

Looking back on the team’s first-month struggles and subsequent resurgence, Kelly acknowledged some of it had to do with the team being overconfident following last season’s championship.

“We heard it from everybody about this Stanley Cup hangover,” he said. “I think maybe certain games we came in just feeling a sense of entitlement. Winning a Stanley Cup, we figured we could just show up and we’d get the two points. But every team came at us even harder because of what he accomplished the year before.

“I think it took us a month to realize that. When November came around, I think collectively as a group we realized we had to play better, and we did.”

Next up for the Bruins is a Saturday matinee against the Canucks. Kelly downplayed the importance of the matchup.

“The media has hyped this up more than the players have,” he said. “We just want to go out and have a good game. They’re playing extremely well — I think they’re first in the West — and we’re playing well right now. We don’t have anything to prove other than going out there and playing hard and trying to get the two points.”

Kelly wouldn’t admit to the Bruins having revenge on their minds despite the likes of Canucks pest Alex Burrows returning to Boston.

“It was a good, physical series, battled hard by both sides and went the distance to seven,” he said. “We just want to go out there and play hard and play our style. We’re a big, strong, physical team when we’re playing at our best, and that doesn’t change regardless of who we’re playing.”

Kelly’s contract expires after this season. While he said that no negotiations have been going on, he left no doubt that he hopes to return.

“Obviously, I’d love to stay here,” he said. “Boston’s a great city, a great team. My wife and I have enjoyed this city so much since we’ve been here. It couldn’t have been a more perfect thing for me to come here last year and end up coming to a great team that wins the Stanley Cup. Hopefully, it’s something we can get worked out.”

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Bruins-Devils Live Blog: Nick Palmieri ties it at 3 11.15.11 at 6:38 pm ET
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Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: Marc-Andre Gragnani makes it 6-2 11.12.11 at 6:56 pm ET
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Read More: Benoit Pouliot, Chris Kelly, Jhonas Enroth, Marc-Andre Gragnani
Bruins ‘tired’ of last place, can leap-frog Islanders with win 11.07.11 at 12:27 pm ET
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The B’s have finally won two games in a row, but to say they’ve polished off a greasy breakfast and finally shaken that nasty Stanley Cup hangover may be a bit of a stretch. After all, they’re still in last place in the Eastern Conference.

That can change Monday night at TD Garden, though. Neither of the Bruins’ last two wins have let them budge in the standings, but that’s just the NHL being the NHL. It’s tough to move in the standings when points are doled out in such plentiful fashion. With the Islanders in town, the Bruins will face the only other team in the Eastern Conference with only 10 points, so a victory Monday would move the B’s out of 15th, all the way up to 14th.

“We can move up the standings. That’s got to be a motivation factor,” Chris Kelly said after Monday’s morning skate. “I think all the guys are tired of seeing our name at the bottom there, so you’ve just got to come out and be consistent like we were the last game. ”

The last game to which Kelly refers saw the B’s score seven goals, and the one before that had them score five. Now it’s a matter of the B’s keeping the pedal to the medal, because it will take a prolonged stretch of winning hockey to get the Bruins back into the playoff picture. Kelly likes the way things have been going of late, but rather than looking at the progress they make in the standings, he’ll look at progress on the ice.

“Obviously you want to move up int he standings, but it’s early days. We just need to focus on playing our best hockey,” Kelly said. “If we don’t play the way we’re capable of playing, then we won’t move up the standings and we’ll be stuck where we’re at. I think if you get too focused on the standings at this point of the year, I think you can maybe get in trouble.”

Not as much trouble as the B’s will be in if they stay in last place for much longer. Monday provides them with an opportunity to get out of a position they never belonged in, and they’d be wise to capitalize.

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Chris Kelly to become grumpier old man with 500th NHL game 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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Read More: Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton
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