On Thursday, Chris Kelly participated in his first morning skate since suffering a broken left tibia March 11. On Friday, Kelly will practice with his teammates at Ristuccia Arena. Later that day, Kelly will travel with the team to Montreal.
While Kelly might not return to the lineup on Saturday, he could play on Monday at TD Garden against Carolina.
“I think it’s a matter of probably days now versus a week that hopefully he’ll be back,” said coach Claude Julien.
Kelly missed his 13th straight game Thursday. But that streak is not likely to continue much longer.
Kelly has skated four straight days. He did not have any limitations in Thursday’s morning skate. Kelly doesn’t expect he’ll need much time to reach game-level shape.
“I think I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping my conditioning up,” Kelly said. “The training staff has done a great job with me, keeping me feeling good. I’ll go out there tomorrow and hopefully I feel better and better. Hopefully it’s not too long until I’m playing.”
The Bruins need Kelly back as soon as possible. They will be without Patrice Bergeron indefinitely because of the concussion he suffered Tuesday against Ottawa. The Bruins will need Kelly’s experience on defense, draws (60.6 winning percentage), and penalty killing (2:25 of shorthanded ice time per game) to help replace Bergeron.
In Thursday night’s 1-0 victory over New Jersey, Rich Peverley centered Jay Pandolfo and Kaspars Daugavins. Once Kelly returns, Peverley will most likely switch to the right side. The coaching staff would then decide between Pandolfo and Daugavins to be the left wing.
On March 9, one game before he was hurt, Kelly scored only his second goal of the season. Kelly, Peverley, and Jordan Caron appeared to have some chemistry before the injury.
“It could have been much worse,” Kelly said. “I could have been done for the rest of the season or even worse. It wasn’t as bad as maybe I originally thought it was when I was lying on the ice. I’m happy I’m going to have an opportunity to come back.”
Debut for Daugavins
Daugavins played his first game for his new club. The Bruins claimed Daugavins on waivers from Ottawa March 27, but he sat out three games while waiting to obtain his work visa.
The left-shot Daugavins, playing right wing, had two shots in 9:21 of ice time.
Daugavins played a no-nonsense, straight-line style.
In the third period, Daugavins tried to force a play at the offensive blue line. He turned the puck over instead of depositing it deep into the zone.
“When there’s a battle for a loose puck, he’s a strong individual,” Julien said. “He did a good job of battling and getting pucks out. In the third period that one time there, when he should have gone in so we could change, he didn’t. But I think there were a lot of guys tonight that made that same mistake.”
Daugavins was a regular penalty killer in Ottawa. Julien will give Daugavins some time to watch the penalty kill before using him in shorthanded situations.
David Krejci was a regular penalty killer until midway through the 2010-11 season. With Bergeron out, Krejci will pick up some of the shorthanded minutes.
Julien likes to send out Krejci with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton for the first post-kill shift. Krejci was averaging only 19 seconds of shorthanded ice time entering Thursday’s game.
“Since we had a lot of penalty killers, we held him back a little bit,” Julien said. “A lot of times I’ll come back with his line after we kill. But we need him right now. He’s certainly in every meeting, capable of being one of those guys.”
Krejci took the team’s only penalty of the night. As such, Krejci wasn’t selected for shorthanded duty.
The Bruins rolled out four forwards: Peverley, Pandolfo, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Paille.
Redden not ready
Wade Redden, acquired from St. Louis Wednesday, traveled to Boston Thursday. The defenseman didn’t play against the Devils. Redden should be available for Saturday’s game . . . Krejci replaced Bergeron as one of the two alternate captains . . . Johnny Boychuk was hit in the face with a puck in the second period and needed several stitches to close a cut on the right side of his mouth . . . Caron and Aaron Johnson were the healthy scratches . . . Adam McQuaid skated Thursday morning with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides . . . David Clarkson led all players with seven shots. Clarkson, one of the league’s best power forwards, will be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end. If Clarkson doesn’t re-sign with the Devils, he will be one of the most sought-after UFAs.