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Chris Kelly days away from returning to Bruins lineup 04.04.13 at 12:40 pm ET
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Chris Kelly skated for the fourth consecutive day on Thursday as he nears a return from a broken tibia suffered on March 11 against the Senators, but Thursday marked the first time he skated with his teammates.

Kelly participated fully in the Bruins’ morning skate, and though he will not play Thursday against the Devils, Claude Julien said that his return to the lineup is right around the corner.

“I think it’s just a matter of probably days now vs. a week that hopefully he’ll be back,” Julien said.

The coach added that Kelly will travel with the team to Montreal this weekend for Saturday’s game, though it’s too early to tell whether Kelly will actually play vs. the Habs.

Though Kelly is itching to get back on the ice (this is the longest he’s been out with an injury in his NHL career), he isn’t getting too far ahead of himself when it comes to jumping back in the lineup.

“It’s just about how I feel. If I feel good, I do a little bit more the next day,” he said. “If I don’t feel as good, maybe don’t push it as much. One step at a time. Today was my first day with the guys, and it was just a morning skate. Maybe if we practice tomorrow, I’ll get to skate a little longer with them and maybe do a little more.”

Morning skates aren’t a very physical affair, as the half hour is used for skating, line rushes, and other work such as special teams and face-offs. The next step in Kelly’s recovery would appear to be adding the physical aspect.

“I’m hoping not to get hit, to be honest,” he said with a laugh. “If they want to hit me, I guess that will be the next step.”

As for what he’s looking to get out of the final days before he gets back into games, Kelly said that it’s a combination of getting over the injury and getting his strength back.

“I think it’s a little bit of both. Conditioning is definitely a big part of it,” he said. “You don’t want to be fatigued and put yourself in a vulnerable position for other injuries. The fatigue aspect is definitely there. I need to work on that and just feel comfortable with the injury as well.”

When he does return, his line could look different. When he was injured, he was skating with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron on the third line, but since then the Bruins have added Kaspars Daugavins and Jaromir Jagr, both of whom could eventually be in the third line mix. The B’s have also used Jay Pandolfo more on the third line (Pandolfo and Daugavins played on Peverley’s wings in Thursday’s morning skate).

Kelly’s line struggled mightily before he went down, and the third line has continued to underachieve. He doesn’t view his eventual return as a chance to bounce back with a new linemate or two, focusing instead on just playing when he can.

“I just want to be back. Whoever I play with will be great,” he said. “I know adding [Jagr] was great, and Daugavins as well. There are a few new faces, but whoever I play with will be great with me.”

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Peter Chiarelli expects Chris Kelly to return to Bruins ‘soon’ 04.03.13 at 5:30 pm ET
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Bruins center Chris Kelly skated for the third consecutive day when he took the ice Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena. Kelly has been out since suffering a broken tibia on March 11 against the Senators and was ruled out indefinitely at the time, though general manager Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday that the center is nearing a return.

“He’ll be back soon,” Chiarelli said of Kelly. “I know you’d like a little more detail, but I’m satisfied with his prospective return date and he’ll be playing for us soon.”

Chiarelli said that knowing Kelly would be back in the lineup in short order impacted his approach at the trade deadline. The Bruins, who lost Patrice Bergeron for the time being with a concussion, didn’t add any centers, though recently acquired winger Kaspars Daugavins can play in the middle.

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Injured Bruins Chris Kelly, Adam McQuaid skate 04.02.13 at 10:28 am ET
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The Bruins are getting some encouraging news on the injury front this week, as both Chris Kelly (leg) and Adam McQuaid (shoulder) skated Tuesday with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides. It was their second day on the ice, as the injured pair also skated Monday.

Kelly has been out since March 11, when he suffered a broken tibia against the Senators. The team said following the injury that he was out indefinitely, though Kelly hopes to be ready by the end of the regular season. McQuaid suffered a shoulder strain on March 19 against the Jets and was expected to miss between three and four weeks.

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Chris Kelly: ‘There’s no real time frame’ for return 03.15.13 at 1:38 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Chris Kelly has never missed more than seven games in a regular season, so the next however many weeks is going to be a new experience for him.

“It won’t be the best time,” Kelly said Friday.

Kelly is out “indefinitely” (Peter Chiarelli‘s words) as a result of a broken left tibia he suffered in a knee-on-knee collision with Senators forward Chris Neil. Speaking Friday for the first time since the injury and sporting no crutches, cast, or anything other than his clothes, Kelly said he’s “hoping” to be back by the end of the regular season, but doesn’t know.

“[I’m] just trying to get it better,” he said. “There’s no real time frame. Just come here, work hard, and let the medical staff and trainers do their job.”

Icing to get the swelling down and maintaining the strength in the leg is the priority for Kelly now in the recovery process. The 32-year-old center actually said he considers himself fortunate that the injury he suffered was worse. He knew when he hit the ice that it was bad, but the fear from watching the play in real time was that he could have injured his knee, which would have meant a much longer recovery time and potentially the end of his season.

“You’ve got to look at the positives in certain situations,” Kelly said. “It could have been much worse.”

As for the collision itself, Kelly found no problem with it.

“I think it was just a hockey play, to be honest,” he said. “Both guys kind of turned there and we didn’t really have any place to go. Things happen quick out there, and that’s all it was really.

“Chris and I are friends, and he sent me a text right after apologizing. I just said, ‘It was a hockey play.’ That’s all it is.”

With Kelly out, the Bruins have gone with Rich Peverley, who has played right wing for the majority of his Bruins career, at center between Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron. Though it’s probably hard for Kelly to be a spectator, he’s liked what he’s seen out of the revamped third line over the last two games.

“In the two games, they’ve had a lot of offensive time and they’ve moved the puck well,” he said. “Pevs has looked great at center. ‘€¦ It’s a pretty familiar position for Rich, and I thought the line worked well together.”

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Chris Kelly out indefinitely with broken left tibia 03.13.13 at 4:54 pm ET
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The Bruins announced Wednesday that center Chris Kelly is out indefinitely with a broken left tibia. Kelly suffered the injury on a collision with Ottawa forward Chris Neil Monday night and missed Tuesday’s game.

With Kelly out Tuesday, the Bruins moved Rich Peverley to center with Jay Pandolfo and Jordan Caron on the wings for the third line.

Through 23 games this season, Kelly has two goals and four assists for six points and a minus-6 rating.

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Chris Bourque not worried he’ll be replaced at trade deadline 03.04.13 at 3:21 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — As the trade deadline approaches, players on bad teams worry about being moved, but players on good teams worry about being replaced. Not too many Bruins should have reason to worry about that, but Chris Bourque probably tops that list.

With less than a month to go before the trade deadline, enough of the season has been played for teams to diagnose potential weaknesses and where upgrades could be needed. In the Bruins’ case, there isn’t much not to like.

Tyler Seguin is finally hitting his stride after a slow start and the Bruins’ top two lines have been very productive. The defense has been strong as usual, and though Andrew Ference isn’t having his best season, the B’s shouldn’t actively seek anything more than a potential depth move on the back end. Tuukka Rask has been healthy and strong, so between the offensive production, solid defensive play and sound goaltending, you’d have to nitpick to find an area that needs upgrading.

That’s why Bourque’s name has come up so much. The Bruins have grown accustomed to getting more production out of the third line, and Bourque has gone from the third line left wing to the fourth line Saturday to a healthy scratch Sunday, which was his second of the season. He was taken off the power play late in Saturday’s win against the Lightning before eventually sitting vs. the Canadiens.

With there little not to like about this Bruins team, Bourque has been a target for criticism from the get-go. The chemistry with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley — two guys who gelled with the likes of Michael Ryder and Benoit Pouliot in the past two years — wasn’t there, so it’s no surprise that B’s fans were hoping for a Ryder redux prior to last week’s deal that sent the veteran sniper from Dallas to Montreal.

Despite Ryder no longer being an option, you would think that a winger for that Kelly line would be at the top of Peter Chiarelli’s shopping list as April 3 draws nearer. If the Bruins were to upgrade on the third line, Bourque wouldn’t be of much use as a fourth-liner, so he would likely suffer the same fate that Joe Corvo did last season when Boston replaced him in the lineup with Greg Zanon.

For now, Bourque isn’t worried that the trade deadline will mean him losing his spot in being lineup.

“Everyone’s here to win,” Bourque said Monday. “If they bring more guys in, that’s what they’re going to do. I can’t control any of that stuff. I’ve got to control what I can control and that’s it.”

In 17 games this season, Bourque has one goal and three assists for four points and a minus-4 rating. With three more games, the 27-year-old will have tied his career high with 20 games played, which he did in the 2009-10 season with the Penguins. The question at the beginning of the season was whether Bourque would be the season-long answer with Kelly and Peverley after being given the job in camp, but he’s yet to secure a stranglehold on the spot.

In the meantime, Bourque says his mindset hasn’t changed from one game to the next. He’s going to assume he’s in the lineup and he’s going to assume he’ll be given more opportunities. Time might be running out for him to make a lasting statement though.

“You come to the rink ready to play,” Bourque said. “If you don’t, then you’re not coming to the rink with the right attitude. You’ve just got to stay positive and be ready at all times.”

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Chris Bourque feels the comfort is there and the offense will come 01.25.13 at 12:47 pm ET
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Chris Bourque is only three games into his Bruins career, and though neither he nor his line has made a ton of noise on the ice, he’s found Boston — the third NHL stop of his career — to be an ideal fit.

“Every game I feel more and more comfortable,” he said. “Obviously getting the nerves out the first couple of games, playing in the Garden with a full house, there’s definitely a little bit of nerves and obviously in New York the other night, but I’m starting to settle in here and I’m starting to feel pretty good and hopefully just get better every day.”

Bourque said that it still feels “surreal” playing for the Bruins given that he grew up watching his father, Ray Bourque, carve out a Hall of Fame career with the B’s, but that’s to be expected.

“Every day that passes, you get kind of used to it a little bit more,” he said. “Seeing my dad’s picture all over the place, every time I see that it reminds that he was such a legend here, so it’s still a little bit different, but something that I’m going to have to get used to. It’s a lot of fun being around these guys, a great group of guys and a good hockey team.”

As for what he’s done on the ice, Bourque is looking for his first goal as a Bruin (he has one goal in 36 career NHL games), but he’s been trusted with minutes on the third line, power play (he was on the ice for Brad Marchand‘s power-play goal against the Rangers Wednesday) and shootout, as he was Boston’s third shooter against the Jets Monday. The confidence is there on Bourque’s part, and the faith is there on Claude Julien‘s part.

“Chris Bourque is a great player, skilled guy,” Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “I think he’s been an important part of our power play as far as giving us that left shot that we need right now. He’s been pretty decent there. I think he’s another guy that’s feeling his way through our hockey club. The one thing you want out of players that are coming in for the first time is that they don’t hurt your hockey club, and [he] hasn’t.”

The line of Chris Kelly between Bourque and Rich Peverley hasn’t been the Bruins’ strongest — they’ve produced no goals, while Bourque and Peverley have minus-2 ratings and Kelly is a minus-1 — but Bourque thinks the process of coming together has gone increasingly well.

“I think every game has gotten better,” he said. “Last game there were a lot of power plays and PKs. [Kelly and Peverley] kill penalties and me and Pevs are on the power play, so we didn’t play as much together as a line, but when we’re out there I feel like we’re creating some good energy. That’s part of the job as a third line is creating energy for the team and getting momentum. I think it’s been going pretty well so far.”

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