WILMINGTON, Mass. — The fates of Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton and center Chris Kelly are now in the hands of coach Claude Julien.
The Boston bench boss announced Friday after B’s practice that both players have been fully cleared for contact. Both Hamilton (mild concussion) and Kelly (fractured fibula) participated in full practices Thursday and Friday, and they are ready to go for game action. Whether they’re in the lineup Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, however, is up to Julien.
“Usually when they’re cleared for contact, it becomes a matter of us figuring out whether they’re ready to play or if they need a little more practice time,” Julien said after Friday’s practice.
Physical health won’t be Julien’s sole determinant when making the decision to put Hamilton and/or Kelly back into the lineup. The Bruins’ coaching staff also is mindful that getting back into practice is a little bit different than getting back into games. That transition might be a little easier for Hamilton, who has been out for less than two weeks, as opposed to Kelly, who has been out since early December.
“I think if anything Dougie in game shape is probably closer because he only missed maybe a week,” Julien said. “But the other guy’s been out for six weeks. Shape-wise, I think he’s fine, but game shape-wise, it’s going to be a question mark. So we’ve got to continue to get some battle drills with them like you saw us do after practice. That’s the biggest thing for players. You can skate them all you want, but what is tiring is when you get in those battles, and so we’ll see how he is. He’s been cleared, which is good. After he’s been cleared, the decision comes back to me.”
Both players will travel with the club to Philadelphia for Saturday’s matinee game. Defenseman Adam McQuaid, who has yet to return to practice since suffering a leg injury on Jan. 19, will not make the trip.