Bruins notebook

Documented case of Kelly not being available

By Kevin Paul Dupont
Globe Staff / February 18, 2011

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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Chris Kelly, Day 2 held hostage.

Kelly, acquired Tuesday by the Bruins to add needed depth at center, remained in Ottawa yesterday, unable to pull on his new No. 23 Black-and-Gold sweater for last night’s game at Nassau Coliseum against the Islanders.

Kelly, 30, fell victim not to injury or flu-like symptoms, but rather to paperwork and governmental bureaucracy. The Toronto-born Kelly remained without the necessary papers to work for a US-based NHL team, but his current documents will allow him to play tonight when the Bruins, somewhat serendipitously, take on the Senators at Scotiabank Place.

“At this time,’’ said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, issuing a statement some four hours ahead of faceoff, “we have not received the proper immigration approval necessary for Chris to play in [last] night’s game against the New York Islanders. This is the normal operating procedure for a non-immigrant to legally work in the United States.’’

With Kelly a man without a country, or at least sans a hall pass, coach Claude Julien had at hand the same set of 12 forwards who suited for Tuesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs. Julien made it clear he intends to use Kelly, who can play all three forward spots, initially as a center. That being the case, it probably means rookie Tyler Seguin, pegged again last night to work the pivot, will be designated to press box duty for the foreseeable future.

Kelly, noted Julien, “will show up every game . . . that’s important for us.’’ The conservative coach added that Kelly, acquired for a second-round pick in June’s draft, will help on faceoffs and provide “experience . . . grit . . . determination.’’

“He has experience down the middle,’’ added the coach, “so that’s a starting point for us with him.’’

Seguin isn’t the only forward vulnerable to be scratched, but at this time of the season and with the club struggling, it’s less likely Julien would use him ahead of veteran Daniel Paille. Seguin’s offensive potential far surpasses Paille’s, but Julien’s lament of late has been the club’s overall defensive play, and he is more apt to trust Paille when it comes to trying to limit goals.

“Look at Tim Thomas,’’ Julien said of his No. 1 goalie. “You can’t be mad at him for maybe not being at the top of his game. We’ve had uncharacteristic breakdowns of late.’’

Trade rumblings How soon will Tomas Kaberle be wearing a Bruins sweater?

Well, the 32-year-old Czech defenseman remained a Maple Leaf yesterday, but that didn’t stop the incessant rumors from swirling. Chiarelli and Toronto GM Brian Burke have been talking trade for the last two weeks, and Chiarelli said Tuesday night, amid the announcement that he acquired Kelly, he was determined to land one of the nine defensemen the Bruins have targeted in trade.

Without question, Kaberle is one of those targets, but defensemen are a very hot commodity. Paul Mara was sent from Anaheim back to Montreal yesterday, the 31-year-old former Belmont Hill star providing depth for a club that has been thinned out behind the blue line. Rumors around the Habs have it that veteran rearguard Jaroslav Spacek might need extended time off for a bothersome knee injury.

Kaberle’s overall defensive skills are somewhat pedestrian, but he has long been a valued power-play performer, once pairing with Bryan McCabe as one of the game’s best point-to-point tandems. He undoubtedly would pair on Boston’s first unit with Zdeno Chara, allowing Mark Recchi a humane escape from his current assignment as Big Z’s partner back there on the man-advantage. Recchi, even at 43, is valuable at many things. Point duty is not one of them.

Mara likely was not one of Chiarelli’s targets. If not Kaberle, then perhaps Zach Bogosian or Ron Hainsey in Atlanta. Another possibility, though perhaps remote, would be Matt Hunwick, whom the Bruins shipped to Colorado when Marc Savard returned (ever so briefly) to the lineup at the start of December. The day after Hunwick was shipped out, Julien voiced his regret that Hunwick was gone, noting that the club had lost one of its better puckhandlers along the blue line.

The Avalanche, in the thick of the playoff seedings the first two months of the season, have virtually slipped out of sight in the Western Conference, with Hunwick being a favorite target of disgruntled fans. With Savard now done for the season (because of a Hunwick check at the Pepsi Center Jan. 22), the Bruins easily could absorb Hunwick’s cap hit. The deal would be all the more intriguing if the Avalanche would deal prolific scorer Milan Hejduk, a right winger who is destined to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

Stuart odd man out All 19 skaters took the pregame warm-up for the Bruins, and in the end Mark Stuart was the lone scratch. Stuart played the previous two games after being scratched for eight in a row. Rumors of late (including those for Kaberle) have had him on the trade block . . . Those who didn’t skate in the optional morning practice: Shawn Thornton, Michael Ryder, Andrew Ference, Chara, Recchi, and Thomas. Very rarely does Chara skip even an optional workout. “Yes,’’ said a playful Chara, sticking an index finger firmly in an aged reporter’s chest as the towering defenseman imitated Julien’s orders, “it was one of these [pressing firmer with his finger], ‘You are not skating. It’s optional, but you are not skating.’ ’’ . . . The Bruins were in need of a much better effort from their penalty killers. In their previous five games, they had killed only 13 of 22 power plays, for a lowly 59.1 percentage. League-wide, the Oilers have the worst PK, killing only 75.4 percent of their shorthanded situations. The Islanders had only one power play, and failed to scored . . . Tuukka Rask got his second start in the last six games . . . The Bruins outshot the Islanders, 15-4, in the first period, but were outhit, 9-0. A strong second period by the Islanders had Boston’s shot lead at 27-26 after 40 minutes, and the home team had a 12-2 lead in hits through two, finishing with a 21-4 edge in that category . . . The Bruins won 68 percent of the draws, with Patrice Bergeron winning 13 of 18 (72 percent) . . . Only six Boston skaters finished without a point — Michael Ryder, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Steven Kampfer, Dennis Seidenberg, and Paille . . . Seguin’s goal was his 10th this season. He and Marchand (16 goals) are the first two Boston rookies to reach the 10-goal plateau since Steve Heinze and Dmitri Kvartalnov in 1992-93.

Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at

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