One of the biggest surprises of last year's Bruins season was a 20 goal, 39 point output from long-time Senators forward Chris Kelly, the best all-around season of his career. The performance is largely what earned him a 4-year, 12 million dollar contract with the team.
But so far this year Kelly has been somewhat absent from the score sheet. Despite playing in all 14 games as a regular forward, he has managed zero goals and four assists thus far. Speaking on the scoring drought on February 15th (since which he has still not scored), Kelly stated that while he is longing to light the lamp; the great play of the team thus far has helped him not focus on it as much:
“Of course I want to score. I’d be lying if I said ‘Oh, I don’t want to score.’ Everybody wants to score,” But it makes things easier when the team is doing well, so if the team continues to do well and I don’t score, it is what it is. I’d like to help out.” (Quote from BostonHerald.com)
But looking past the offensive numbers, Kelly has still proven to be a solid, important player in other areas for the team. He is an integral part of the Bruins elite penalty killing unit, and continues to show prowess on the defensive side of the puck.
Most importantly, the absence of goal-scoring from Kelly doesn't seem to be bothering the big man on the bench in the slightest. When asked about Kelly's season a week ago, Claude Julien emphasized how much Kelly brings to the team in ways besides scoring:
“He had a great start last year, scored some goals and had some decent points, and then all of a sudden, the expectations are a little higher. He’ll be the first one to tell you he’s not at the top of his game yet, but at the same time he’s a veteran and knows what he has to do. He’s part of that penalty-killing unit that’s been outstanding for us. He’s been great on draws for us (59.4 percent), he’s been great killing penalties. He’s been great when asked to play against top lines and, at times, especially after power plays. I throw different wingers with him and he’s handled that extremely well. The only part right now that’s frustrating for him, and what we know can be a little better for him, is the production.”
While Tyler Seguin has been drawing a lot of attention for his underwhelming goal scoring so far this season; the lack of production from key role players like Kelly is definitely something to look at in the tough middle stretch of the season. If Kelly can become the goal scoring threat he was last year, that just adds one more dimension to a Bruins team that is already playing championship caliber hockey.