WILMINGTON, Mass. – We won’t know for weeks or even months if Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley were the final pieces to the Bruins’ championship puzzle.
All we know right now, some seven weeks since the mid-February deals that brought both forwards to Boston, is that they’ve been almost a perfect fit for one another.
Kelly, who came over from Ottawa, and Peverley, who was acquired from Atlanta, have been linemates and penalty-killing partners ever since they both got into the Bruins’ lineup at the same time. Although goals have been few and far between for the pair of veterans in black and gold, they’ve forged some chemistry that has created tons of chances both at even strength and shorthanded.
“Obviously, not scoring … it’s something that you want to do. I think coming and not contributing with any kind of offense was a little frustrating, especially the way we had been playing,” said Kelly today after practice one day after he scored his first goal with the Bruins in the loss to the Rangers. “We had been playing well, getting opportunities. But I was happy we were getting those opportunities because it’s only a matter of time before our line started clicking.”
Of late rookie Tyler Seguin has been Kelly and Peverley’s running mate. We might see Michael Ryder back in that spot before the regular season is through. Regardless of who gets to be the right winger on that third line, that player should be able to benefit from the rapport that’s been built between Kelly and Peverley in the weeks since they were the two new forwards in town. Both players have speed and strong defensive instincts, which have helped them forge chemistry despite having never met prior to joining the Bruins.
“Obviously, Rich skates extremely well and sees the ice well and he’s a good offensive player, a good two-way player,” said Kelly, who compared his synergy with Peverley to what he experienced with Antoine Vermette when the two were helping Ottawa once reach the Stanley Cup final a few years ago. “Not knowing him at all before coming to Boston, it takes a little time to get to know someone. Especially, he’s in the same situation I was in – coming to a new team, new surroundings, new everything – so for us to kind of be in that same situation gave us something in common. To play with him has been fun.”
Peverley, the less extrospective of the two, couldn’t come up with a career comparable for Kelly. But that’s all right as long as he continues to feed off the center and help the pair put opposing defensemen back on their heels and force power-play performers to chase pucks down in their own end.
“He’s really good on faceoffs, good at blocking shots. And I’m trying to block as many shots as I can too,” said Peverley. “I think we take a lot of pride in the penalty kill. We both really enjoy playing it and I think going forward we’re both looking forward to contributing a little more.”
The Bruins are going to need more than just the single goal they’ve gotten from Kelly and the two (one shorthanded) Peverley’s provided to make the lengthy playoff run the pair of forwards were brought to Boston to extend. Both players acknowledge there has to be more points on the board to make all the intuitive passes and speedy skating they’re able to display count for something. Peverley’s confident neither he nor Kelly will waste this opportunity to be part of a special experience in Boston.
“I think we’re both really excited about the opportunity we have here,” he said. “Next week, the real season starts.”