MONTREAL — Chris Kelly was sporting a new look on the Bell Centre ice Thursday morning, but he was on the ice and will be there again Thursday night when the Bruins take on the Canadiens in Game 4 of their opening-round playoff series.
"I feel good, I feel great actually," Kelly said after the Bruins' morning skate. "It was good to get back on the ice and get going again."
Kelly suffered a facial injury in Game 3 on Monday when he was driven into the Montreal net from behind by Canadiens forward Scott Gomez. Referees called Gomez for interference on the play, while Kelly was left with a nasty shiner around his right eye.
It could have been worse though, as Kelly was sent back to Boston to have further testing while the rest of the club spent the past two days in Lake Placid, N.Y. It was feared he might have suffered a fracture, but Kelly checked out fine and was cleared to play.
"I'm good to play [Thursday night]," Kelly said. "I went back to see some doctors in Boston and they gave me the green light, said everything's great and just go out and have fun."
Bruins coach Claude Julien confirmed that Kelly would play in Game 4 as the Bruins attempt to pull even in the series.
"He's ready to go and he's going to be in the lineup [Thursday night]," Julien said. "That's as plain as I can put it."
The 30-year-old Kelly, who usually wears a visor, was wearing a full cage to protect his face, but stated that was just a precaution.
"It wasn't too bad, actually," said Kelly, who hasn't worn a full cage since he was 14. "It was a lot better than I thought."
When a Montreal reporter pointed out that Canadiens defenseman James Wisniewski was forced to wear a cage late in the year after taking a puck to the face, Kelly even joked, "Maybe I'll ask him in the first period for some tips."
The series hasn't exactly been conducive to such friendly banter. As expected, the traditional rivals have played a very physical and at times nasty series so far. But as far as the play that injured Kelly, the Bruins forward didn't feel there was any malicious intent on Gomez's part.
"It's a hockey play, it's part of the game," said Kelly, who played the rest of Game 3 and even scored the empty-netter in the final minute to seal Boston's 4-2 victory. "I know Gomez. I've played against him for a lot of years. He's a good, honest player and works hard. I don't think it was deliberate by any means."
Kelly isn't sure how long he will have to wear the cage, saying it might depend on how well he plays with it. If he scores a few goals, he may never get rid of it. That would require a bit of a sacrifice though.
"I don't know, it kind of hides my good looks," Kelly joked.