WILMINGTON — The Bruins are still waiting for Godot. The newest Bruin, center Chris Kelly, acquired from the Ottawa Senators yesterday for the Bruins’ second-round pick in the 2011 draft, was not at practice at Ristuccia Arena today. Kelly is having “visa issues’’ according to coach Claude Julien, who was not sure whether Kelly would make it to Long Island tomorrow for the Bruins’ game with the New York Islanders.
“He’s got to deal with visa issues, I’ve got to deal with some team issues,’’ said Julien, who must prod his team out of a three-game slump as it begins a six-game road trip, juggle seven defensemen into six slots, and figure out what forward combinations to try next.
With Marc Savard lost for the season, the Bruins needed Kelly to give them some more experience at center, which likely means a move to wing for rookie Tyler Seguin, but Julien insisted his lineup card had not been filled in yet.
“I’d like to see him play with us first,’’ said Julien. “We feel he’s a great fit and that’s why he’s here.
“It’s definitely something that we feel is going to help our hockey club. He’s an experienced player, plays center, plays the wing, takes a lot of draws, has experience –playoff experience — I liked his grit and his compete level, so it’s certainly a great addition for our hockey club.
“I haven’t even had a chance to talk to him yet. I’m hoping to talk to him later on today.’’
Patrice Bergeron did not skate with the team, taking what Julien called “a light maintenance day.’’ The emphasis was on competition at practice, opening with a 1-on-0 shooting drill with a defenseman trailing the man with the puck: a shooter and a chaser. Later there were some spirited battles during a 2-on- 2 drill inside the zone.
“We need to up our intensity, and our battles,’’ Julien said. “I know we’ve made a lot of mistakes, a lot of those are more mental than about understanding our game. I think it’s about getting our compete level up; we feel it’s slipped lately. Sometimes a little jolt will help you down the road so that was our solution for today anyway.’’
Defenseman Johnny Boychuk, who was a healthy scratch Tuesday night for the first time this season, said he wasn’t feeling bad, just disappointed.
“I went up [to the TD Garden press box] to watch the game.’’ he said, “and just relax and watch how much time I had, just in different situations I might have been rushing before, and maybe just learn from it. I never really [thought] that I was going to be sitting but that was their choice and I’ve got to respect that. I’ve been maybe rushing my plays a little bit and not making the right plays at the right time so I respect their decision.’’