The Boston Bruins activated Chris Kelly from the IR on Tuesday, opening the door for him to return to action for the first time since breaking his right ankle on Dec. 7. The team also demoted forward Ryan Spooner and defenseman Zach Trotman to the AHL.
Kelly, 33, suffered the injury from a slash by Pittsburgh Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis, who called the situation “unfortunate.”
Kelly comes back to a Bruins lineup that is buzzing with three straight victories and wins in four of five games. CSNNE.com is raving about the improved recent play from both Loui Eriksson and Brad Marchand, so it seems like these are good times for the B’s.
Kelly has seven points and a -1 rating in 29 games during the 2013-14 season. The Bruins face the Florida Panthers tonight.
The New York Islanders could only match the Bruins blow-for-blow for so long before Boston took charge of tonight’s game. Bruins forward Brad Marchand led the charge with four points in Boston’s 6-3 victory.
The belief was that Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky’s playing time would be limited given that he missed the Islanders’ previous 46 contests due to a concussion. Instead, he logged 22:08 minutes and was one of just four New York players to finish the game with a positive plus/minus rating.
Speaking of players coming off of head injuries, Loui Eriksson got on the board early, netting his first goal since returning on Jan. 11 from his second concussion of the season:
Islanders goaltender Kevin Poulin was kept in for all six goals, but was finally chased out by Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara at 8:12 of the third period. As a result, Evgeni Nabokov (quad strain) played between the pipes for the first time since Jan. 6.
The Islanders have now lost three straight contests to kill the momentum they had been gathering recently. With their chances of making the playoffs looking increasingly bleak, the pressure will intensify for them to either sign or trade Thomas Vanek before the trade deadline.
There was nothing positive for the Philadelphia Flyers to take from Saturday’s 6-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. It was the classic case of from bad to worse.
“It has to be the most embarrassing game I’ve been involved with,” said Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux, as per Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News.
The Flyers, who had battled back into the thick of the Metropolitan Division standings after a bad start to the season, have only three wins in their last 10 games. According to CSN Philadelphia, Flyers’ head coach Craig Berube called his team “fragile” following this latest defeat.
Led by Jarome Iginla and his four-point night – two goals, two assists – the Bruins jumped out to a four-goal lead after 40 minutes and added two more on the power play in the third, nullifying any faint hopes of a Philadelphia comeback.
The Bruins were rested, with a four-day break. The Flyers were playing their third game in four days. One team was refreshed, the other not so much.
“Right from the first shift we were into it,” Iginla told NHL.com. “Every line was ready to go. You don’t get many breaks during the season, and when you get them you want to make the most, show coach you can handle it too.”
The Boston Bruins received some good news on Friday as injured forward Chris Kelly and sophomore defenseman Dougie Hamilton were cleared for contact, according to CSNNE.com.
Hamilton (concussion) appears to be closer to return than Kelly (broken right ankle), but both traveled with the team on their upcoming road trip to Philadelphia and Long Island. B’s head coach Claude Julien suggested both could be game-time decisions when Boston takes on the Flyers tomorrow.
Hamilton, 20, has suffered through an injury-plagued season, having already missed a month with a sprained MCL. His return will be big, especially since veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is done for the year with a torn ACL. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said he’s going to be patient with his current defensive group before deciding to make a move to replace Seidenberg, meaning Hamilton will have a chance to prove he can handle a bigger load.
As for Kelly, there’s not a huge rush to get him back in. The Bruins miss his penalty killing and veteran leadership, but have gotten nice returns from a number of young replacement forwards this year, namely Ryan Spooner.
“[Kelly] has missed six weeks,” said Julien. “The game shape is the real question. We need to continue to do some battle drills with him.”
The Boston Bruins inked defenseman Kevan Miller to a two-year, $1.6 million extension on Tuesday.
The one-way deal is worth $750K in 2014-15 and $850K in 2015-16, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie. Miller, 26, would have been a restricted free agent this summer had he not signed this extension.
The Bruins now have most of their defense locked up through at least 2014-15, although Torey Krug’s RFA negotiations could provide some challenges.
Miller has played in 16 games with the Bruins this season, his first making it at the NHL level. He’s averaged 16:53 minutes per appearance in 2013-14.