WILMINGTON — The sight of Chris Kelly skating along with Rich Peverley, Jay Pandolfo, and Kaspars Daugavins came as yet another encouraging sign for the Bruins, who welcomed his return to his first full practice Friday at Ristuccia Arena.
After he participated in a morning skate Thursday, Kelly joined the Bruins for a spirited workout at Ristuccia in preparation of Saturday night’s Northeast Division showdown in Montreal.
With a win, the fourth-place Bruins (52 points) would leapfrog the Canadiens (53) in the Eastern Conference — as well as Washington, the Southeast Division leaders with 38 points — and land in second place.
“Yeah, he’s moving in the right direction,’’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Kelly. “It’s nice to see him back with us.’’
Kelly suffered a broken left tibia March 11 in a nasty knee-to-knee collision with Chris Neil in a 3-2 win at Ottawa. When asked about Kelly’s status on Friday, Julien declined to say he would be a game-time decision against the Canadiens.
“No, I’m going to leave it as day to day right now,’’ Julien said. “He’s progressing and I don’t know what his status is going to be here moving forward, whether it’s going to be tomorrow or the beginning of the next week.’’
As much as he was encouraged by his own progress, Kelly was even more thrilled by Julien’s update on his status.
“At least he’s talking about it being a matter of days and not weeks,’’ Kelly joked in the locker room following practice. “It felt good today and it was nice to practice with the guys and get out there, and not just for a morning skate, but for practice and throw my weight around.’’
Asked about a comedic pratfall he suffered on the ice during a drill, Kelly nodded and replied, “Yeah, that was me throwing my weight around. But it feels good, which is a good thing.’’
After the Bruins allowed Ottawa and New Jersey to ring up a combined 87 shots, including 47 by the Senators against Anton Khudobin Tuesday, Julien expressed some concern about the disturbing trend and addressed it in Friday’s practice.
“Did I get it all fixed today? You fix that in one day?’’ an incredulous Julien asked, rhetorically. “[Saturday ] will give us a better idea. I mean, some of those were bad line changes, but a lot of those things, too, were the result of New Jersey shooting from everywhere [Thursday].”
The Devils put 40 shots on Tuukka Rask, who turned them all away for 1-0 win. It was his third shutout of the season and his first time back in net after a two-game hiatus.
“We’ve been through some of that stuff in the past where the shots were coming through from the outside, certainly not a dangerous area,’’ Julien said. “But when you have two games with that amount [of shots], there’s some concern there, and I think we can be a little bit better in that department.’’
While Tyler Seguin expressed his appreciation for all the things Patrice Bergeron does, nowhere was that more evident Thursday than in the faceoff circle. Whereas Bergeron ranks as the best in the league (61.5 percent), Seguin failed against the Devils, converting just 3 of 12 chances.
“Tyler really struggled,’’ Julien said. “But the other guys were about 50 percent. We’ve been working with him on it this year, but you’ve got to remember, the more faceoffs you take as a centermen, the more nonchalant you become about it . . . There’s an adjustment there.’’
Jagr new to this
Newly acquired Jaromir Jagr will be exposed Saturday to one of the greatest rivalries in sports: Bruins-Canadiens. But the 41-year-old future Hall-of-Famer said he expected to take the game in stride. “I don’t like to be too high or too low,’’ he said. “I’m just going to be myself, no matter what. If it’s a playoff game, I’m going to be myself all the time. But you cannot say that about everybody. Some guys love [the pressure], some guys don’t like it.’’ Asked about the kind of reception he expected to receive in Montreal, Jagr joked, “Hey, I’m not starting anymore, so I don’t really care. It’s going to be a lot different in Pittsburgh, trust me.’’ . . . Defenseman Wade Redden, acquired from St. Louis Wednesday, joined the team for practice Friday and worked with Aaron Johnson in a fourth pairing. Redden wore No. 6. “I think they had a pretty good defense already, so I’m just going to fill in where things open up,’’ Redden said . . . The ranks of the Bruins’ back line will soon be bolstered by the expected return of Adam McQuaid (shoulder), who worked out with strength coach John Whitesides for about an hour before Friday’s practice. “He’s skating with us and you’ll probably see him with us the next week,’’ Julien said . . . The Bruins signed Dartmouth forward Matt Lindblad to an entry-level contract. Lindblad, 23, played in 89 games for the Big Green and scored 29 goals to go along with 51 assists.
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.