OTTAWA — The Bruins entered Monday night’s match having lost only seven man-games to injury. That number might change.
At 0:42 of the second period, Chris Neil dropped former Ottawa teammate Chris Kelly with a knee-on-knee hit in the neutral zone. Kelly crumpled to the ice, staying down on all fours for several minutes. He needed help leaving the ice. The No. 3 center placed no weight on his left leg. Kelly didn’t return and the severity of his injury is unknown.
“It was scary to see what happened to Kells,” said Daniel Paille. “Hopefully it’s not too serious and we get to see him real soon. Obviously a little bit of shock on the bench when he doesn’t get up.”
After the game, Kelly traveled to Pittsburgh with the team instead of returning to Boston. Kelly was scheduled to be re-evaluated upon the team’s arrival in Pittsburgh.
Neil wasn’t penalized on the play. Bruins coach Claude Julien said it was an inadvertent collision.
“It happened right in front of me,” Julien said. “He went to turn and ran right into Kelly. It was accidental.”
Shawn Thornton asked Neil about the play in the third period. Neil told Thornton he didn’t intend to injure Kelly.
“From what I saw, I thought it was accidental,” Thornton said. “I asked him about it. He said the same thing. I’ll take his word for it.”
Kelly won five of six faceoffs and recorded one takeaway in 4:13 of ice time. The injury comes as Kelly’s line had gained some traction. Kelly, Jordan Caron, and Rich Peverley connected for a goal in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Philadelphia.
David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Gregory Campbell took shifts in Kelly’s spot on the third line. If Kelly is unavailable against Pittsburgh Tuesday, it has yet to be determined whether the Bruins will recall a center. Peverley could move from right wing to the middle. Jay Pandolfo and Lane MacDermid were extra forwards in Ottawa.
Praise for Parker
Like all college hockey players, Pandolfo would make mistakes during a game. When it happened, Jack Parker’s hand would come up, usually around Pandolfo’s cage or jersey. The two would retire to the runway behind the bench and have a one-sided chat.
“He’d usually drag you by the facemask, jersey, or something like that,” the four-year Boston University star recalled with a smile. “Pretty much everyone who played there went through that and had that experience. He would laugh about it after. But during it, it wasn’t too fun. You never wanted to see someone get dragged down the tunnel, because you knew it wasn’t good.”
Yet Pandolfo was quick to praise Parker, who will retire at the end of this season, for being perhaps the most influential coach of his career.
“He was unreal to me,” said Pandolfo, who won a national championship in 1994-95, his junior season. “Those were probably four of the best years of my life playing for him at BU. He taught me a lot about what it took to get to the next level, how to be a good person, and all those things. He wasn’t only a coach. He was like a father figure to a lot of us. He’s going to be missed there. It’s going to be a huge change trying to replace him.”
Pandolfo was a senior in 1995-96. Early that season, Travis Roy suffered his career-ending injury. Pandolfo scored 38 goals and was a Hobey Baker finalist.
Fourteen seasons later, Eric Gryba closed out his BU career as a senior. Like Pandolfo, Gryba won an NCAA title with Parker during his junior season.
“The guy’s a legend,” said the Ottawa defenseman. “I have a ton of respect for Jack. We had four good years together. They were critical in my development to get me to where I am now. I have nothing but good things to say about Jack. I hope this is the best for him. He always stressed the little things in making me not just a better player on the ice, but a better person off the ice. It’s always been something he’s always done with all his players. You have to respect him for it.”
During the lockout, Pandolfo returned to BU to stay in shape. Pandolfo credited former BU teammate Mike Grier in helping him stay fit during on- and off-ice sessions at Agganis Arena.
“Guys that played there are the guys you stay in touch with during the summertime,” Pandolfo said. “A lot of guys still live in Boston. [Parker] keeps everyone together. It’s important. He’s still going to be there. He’ll be around. It will be an easy transition with him still around.”
Latendresse back in
Ex-Canadien Guillaume Latendresse returned to Ottawa’s lineup. He hadn’t played since Jan. 30 because of whiplash symptoms. Latendresse scored his first goal as a Senator at 0:55 of the first. “When he plays well, he’s a player that goes to the net,” coach Paul MacLean said. “He’s got good hands around the net. The expectation was that he would be a top-six forward for us when we signed him as a free agent. That expectation hasn’t changed. We also know that he’s coming in at the middle of the season. We’ll have to tolerate some stuff along the way. But we’re excited to have him back.” . . . Adam McQuaid was called for boarding Neil at 11:41 of the first. After the hit, Patrick Wiercioch challenged McQuaid. Wiercioch racked up 19 penalty minutes: instigating, instigating while wearing a visor, fighting, and a 10-minute misconduct . . . Pittsburgh will be without Evgeni Malkin Tuesday night because of an upper-body injury. It is not related to the concussion that knocked Malkin out last month.