By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) - Bruins center Patrice Bergeron usually minces words when speaking in public.
He might get fired up behind closed doors but he's usually reserved and careful not to insult anyone, especially teammates, when speaking in front of cameras and voice recorders.
When asked about the Bruins' penalty kill after Boston allowed three power-play goals to the Dallas Stars in a 5-3 loss at TD Garden on Tuesday, though, Bergeron got about as close as he ever has to lashing out at his teammates.
"I mean it's pretty obvious it's way too porous and too many holes," Bergeron said. "We know they're a team that likes to go through seams and make those one-time plays. And obviously it's going to be really hard for Tuukks to stop those kind of shots. So we definitely got to be a lot better."
The Bruins started the night ranked 26th in penalty kill efficiency. They then let in three goals, including two by former Bruins forward Tyler Seguin, on just four opportunities. The Bruins have allowed at least one power-play goal in all but two of their games.
Even before they let Seguin run roughshod over them en route to his seventh NHL hat trick, the Bruins' penalty kill took a major hit. Center Chris Kelly, an alternate captain and a key component in some successful Boston penalty kills the past five seasons went down grabbing at his left leg near the Dallas bench early in the first period. With 1:40 elapsed on the clock, Kelly was attended to by the medical staff and then helped off the ice. Not only did he fail to return to the game, it was soon revealed he would need surgery for a fractured femur and he would miss six to eight months.
Kelly, who's scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent in July, is done for the season and possibly his Bruins career.
The Bruins were finally getting their act together before the Stars came to town. Boston had a point in seven straight (6-0-1) and the penalty kill was the only glaring weakness. The Bruins expected to have some growing pains shorthanded because of the departure of Gregory Campbell and Dan Paille via free agency and the injury to Dennis Seidenberg. But with Kelly among a handful of players with a solid track record, it seemed like it would be a matter of time before the Bruins would become airtight again when on the PK.
"We work on it a lot and a lot of video and stuff," Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. "We just don't seem to be cutting those lanes the way we used to and we haven't had as good of sticks. I think we really got to focus on getting the puck down when we have the opportunity. We haven't necessarily done that. We've been playing against some pretty good power plays. It's enough to win and lose games when the PK doesn't step up, so we've got to do a much better job."
And they're going to have to step up without Kelly.
"Yeah it's tough," Marchand said. "And I think that's an area where he's really going to be missed. He's a really good penalty killer, he has one of the best sticks in the league. When you lose a guy like that on the PK, it's tough to fill that void and it just puts more pressure on the rest of us, so it will be tough losing him."
The Bruins could've used Kelly in all areas Tuesday, not just on the penalty kill. He might've helped slow down the Stars attack. He definitely would've helped them get their act together after a sloppy second period saw them go from 2-1 up to 3-2 down.
"Him being out that long, where he's such a good guy at pulling guys aside and he always plays the right way, always makes the right play," Marchand said.
"Having him not there in the room to talk to us about certain things and stepping up where we need it. Where after the second period, he would've been the guy to say something. So it's times like that we're going to miss him."
Kelly's injury means a lot of things for the Bruins' immediate future. Unfortunately it probably means a step back or two for the penalty kill before it can become an asset.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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