WILMINGTON, Mass. — Bruins center Chris Kelly pretty much summed it up today when he was asked about filling the spot Patrice Bergeron usually plays in between Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi.
“I would love not to play with them,” said the veteran, who practiced in that spot today at Ristuccia Arena during the Bruins’ first on-ice session since Bergeron suffered a mild concussion and the Bruins defeated Philadelphia in the second round.
Obviously, all the Bruins want Bergeron to be back soon.
“But we’ll see what happens and go forward from there,” Kelly concluded.
What happens next is anyone’s guess. It has as much to do with Bergeron’s health as the NHL schedule. Should the Western Conference semifinal series extend far enough, the Bruins might not open their Eastern Conference final series until Saturday. That could open the door for Bergeron to return without missing any games.
Right now, however, the Bruins have to prepare for life without Bergeron. That’s why on the first day back after a couple days off to rest from the sweep of the Flyers, head coach Claude Julien plugged in Kelly.
“Well, it’s one of the fits we have in mind right now. As we speak, I think it’s something that we think can be a good fit,” said the coach. “He’s obviously had some pretty good numbers in the playoffs. But also he’s very reliable at the other end of the ice as well. So it’s a starting point.”
The Bruins have at least another couple days to experiment before the face the Lightning. So don’t be surprised to see Julien and his staff maybe use at least one more different combination before the games begin again.
Kelly’s ready and willing to do whatever his coach asks.
“I don’t think [things] change too much. Obviously, Marchy and Rex are great players and whatever needs to be done, I’ll go and do that,” said Kelly, who has 4-3-7 totals in 11 postseason games. “Wherever Claude feels best to put me or the other guys, I think we’re all willing and able.”