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Kelly the first link in the chain

By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 14, 2012
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Chris Kelly is known around the Bruins’ dressing room for his dry sense of humor. So it would not have been a stretch for Kelly, for whatever reason, to complete his postgame media obligations wearing a chain-link necklace with a padlock as its centerpiece.

“I just like the fact that Kells had to wear it first,’’ Andrew Ference said. “I don’t know if people knew if it was a fashion statement or not, because he kept a pretty straight face.’’

Kelly wore the chain after his overtime goal in Game 1. The chain was Ference’s idea.

Last year, Ference purchased the jacket that transformed into one of the Cup run’s most treasured icons. After each win, the jacket, which Ference bought on eBay, was awarded to the player who played an important role.

The jacket’s significance hit another level after Nathan Horton suffered his season-ending injury in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final. Horton had been the jacket’s keeper after his winning goal in Game 7 against Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference final. After the Bruins won Game 3 without Horton, they decided not to give out the jacket without the right wing being around to do so. After their 4-0 win in Game 4, Horton visited his teammates and handed the jacket to Rich Peverley, who had scored twice.

Following the Game 7 win, Mark Recchi was the jacket’s final recipient, rewarding him not only for his Black-and-Gold contributions but for his Hall-of-Fame career.

To find a similar symbol was not easy.

“Banging my head against the wall, trying to think of something,’’ Ference said. “Early in the year, we’d talked when things weren’t going so great. A lot of teams can probably say it, but we have our success when everybody’s going and doing their role. We’d talked about not having a weak link and having a lot of pride. Guys feed off that. We have a lot of proud guys in this room. So it was from that and just being goofy. Not trying to necessarily replicate the jacket, but it was a fun thing to do after games.’’

There are 20 links to the chain, representing the number of players in uniform each game. The padlock means there are no weak links. Ference purchased an engraving kit and etched the Bruins logo into the padlock. He presented the chain to Kelly after Game 1.

It will now be Kelly’s job to hand the chain to its most deserving recipient after the next win.

“We’ve got great team chemistry,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “Our guys respect each other for who they are. Once the puck is dropped, we’re one team and we work for each other. Andrew’s been one of those guys that’s a real deep thinker and finds things that will bode well with what we’re trying to accomplish here. He’s heard us talk all year long about the fact that it’s important not to have any weak links.’’

Boychuk efficient

It wasn’t just that Johnny Boychuk was returning to the lineup in Game 1 after a two-game absence because of a sprained left knee. Boychuk, along with Ference, was given the chore of matching against second-liners Jason Chimera, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alexander Semin.

Boychuk didn’t blink at the challenge.

The sturdy defenseman logged 17 minutes 58 seconds of ice time, recording one shot, two hits, and three blocks. Semin, Washington’s second-most dangerous sniper, managed only one shot on Tim Thomas. Backstrom had three shots and Chimera recorded two.

By eliminating Backstrom and Semin as scoring threats, the Bruins went a long way in limiting Washington’s offensive chances.

“I thought he was a real decent player,’’ Julien said. “He didn’t look like a guy that had missed any games.’’

Had Boychuk not been available, the Bruins would have had to use Mike Mottau, their only spare defenseman. Boychuk played with his knee heavily taped.

“I was conscious of it,’’ Boychuk said of his knee. “But it goes both ways. I knew about it. I just tried not to think about it.’’

The matchup should continue in Game 2, unless Capitals coach Dale Hunter finds a way to get Backstrom and Semin away from Ference and Boychuk.

More from fourth

The Bruins will be seeking better play from their fourth line. For stretches, Washington’s fourth line of Keith Aucoin, Mathieu Perreault, and Joel Ward used its speed and skill to control the puck and log offensive-zone time against counterparts Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell, and Shawn Thornton. “In the third period, as a team and as a line, we probably could have created more,’’ Campbell said. “We were on our heels a little bit. In that situation, that’s where it’s important for our line - with either one, two, three shifts - to take the onus on trying to get the play into the offensive zone.’’ . . . The Bruins spent part of Friday’s practice working on the power play. They went 0 for 4 in Game 1. Julien noted his players weren’t aggressive enough in ripping off shots when they were available . . . Adam McQuaid (eye/head) will miss Game 2. McQuaid sat out another practice and his return is undetermined . . . Anton Khudobin will most likely back up Thomas again in Game 2. Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin) continues to improve.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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