[Ed. note: As part of the build-up to the first round playoff series between the Capitals and the Bruins, Japers' Rink will be looking at some of the important but perhaps lesser-known players on the Bruins and how they might impact the series.]
#23 / Center / Boston Bruins
Nov 11, 1980
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario
Drafted: 94th overall, 1999 by Ottawa
|Assets||Can line up anywhere up front, and can play any role required. Works very hard every time he steps onto the ice. Doesn't shy away from physical contact. Is sound at both ends of the ice.
|Flaws||A solid citizen, but doesn't have enough high-end skill to play a top-six role consistently at the NHL level.
|Career Potential||Versatile checking forward. (Assets, Flaws and Career Potential via SB Nation player page)|
Why you should know who he is - The Bruins are not generally a team that relies on one or two stars to carry their weight, rolling lines pretty consistently and relying on depth to outwork their opponent - so a player like Chris Kelly, who sees about 14-15 minutes a night and can chip in offensively, will be almost as much of a focus for the Caps' defense as their "big name" guys. His GA/60 is tied with Rich Peverley, so when it comes to fulfilling his shutdown role he's very good, but the fact that he's got the same GF/60 as Milan Lucic shows he's involved with the offense as well. Bottom line: he's not a flashy player, but it's usually the ones who aren't flashy that can burn you the most in the playoffs.
How the Caps can stop him - What Kelly lacks in skill he makes up for in hard work, and he's counted on to play against pretty tough competition - so the key to stopping him (or rendering him incapable of stopping the Caps) is to match his work ethic on every shift. That means the guys who often rely on skill need to throw a little physicality into the mix, win the board battles and make him skate the length of the ice if he wants to generate an offensive chance.