The Boston Bruins lineup will get a boost Tuesday night when center Chris Kelly makes his return after a 22-game absence.
Kelly was activated from injured reserve Tuesday afternoon.
“I’m going to play tonight and I’m excited,” he said. “First game back in a while, it’s almost like training camp again.”
The veteran forward suffered a broken fibula Dec. 7 during a win over the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. Kelly will likely play in his normal third-line role when the Bruins take on the Florida Panthers on home ice Tuesday evening, but he’s not sure if he will play at center or on the wing.
Kelly missed a lot of time last season with an injury, and when he rejoined the team prior to the playoffs, he struggled to find his form again. He’s confident there will be a different outcome this time.
“I feel a lot better than last year when I came back. There were different circumstances and the timing was a lot different, but I feel really good coming back this time,” he said.
With the Olympic break coming up, it was important for Kelly to return soon and get back to game action before getting another two weeks off while NHL players compete in Sochi.
“Right now feels like a good time to come back before the [Olympic] break. I think we have six or seven games before the break, so it’ll be nice to get my feet wet and get playing again,” Kelly said.
The Bruins also announced that forward Ryan Spooner and defenseman Zach Trotman have been assigned to the team’s AHL affiliate in Providence.
Kelly’s return to the lineup gave Spooner nowhere to play down the middle, and it’s best to send him back to Providence so he can work on faceoffs and other skills required of centers. Spooner tallied 11 points (zero goals, 11 assists) in 22 games for the Bruins while also giving the team much-needed speed and playmaking ability on the third line. Trotman played has played in two games for Boston. He has not scored a point and averaged 15:00 of ice time.