The Boston Bruins announced today that both Dougie Hamilton and Chris Kelly have both been cleared for contact per Claude Julien.
Hamilton, coming off of a concussion, told the media that he’s been feeling better every day. Hamilton had missed games last month due to a lower-body injury and after returning for just five games suffered the concussion.
“It’s been frustrating, mostly, obviously you don’t want to be injured and it was just when I was getting back into the groove” said Hamilton. “It’s just kind of frustrating, so hopefully I can get back and back into a routine.”
Hamilton is looking to receive clearance to play Saturday when the Bruins take on the Philadelphia Flyers, but Coach Claude Julien said he hasn’t determined the answer to that quite yet.
“Usually when they’re cleared for contact, then 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. “Honestly, we’ll see. I haven’t even thought that far, yet.”
Kelly was cleared to practice earlier in the week after sustaining a broken fibula on December seventh against the Penguins. Kelly will likely be back on the ice after Hamilton due to conditioning issues and having to ease him into it.
Kelly has missed close to six weeks and Hamilton has missed just four games with the concussion. It’s highly unlikely that Kelly would return any sooner than the 30th when the Bruins take on Montreal, or after.
“I was excited to come today,” Kelly said after his first practice. “It’s been a little bit longer than I would have liked, but it’s all part of the process of getting better, and today was a good step in the right direction. It’s just one day at a time, and today was better than yesterday, so I hope tomorrow is better than today and we’ll go from there.”
On Thursday, Kelly wore a gray shirt matching the players on the Bruins third line, but Kelly on the third line may complicate things. The Bruins installed Spooner on the third line and between Eriksson and Soderberg, they have been clicking well as a unit.
Spooner gives the team speed and has 11 assists in 22 games with an ability to be a playmaker. Kelly provides great defense and is a key contributor on the B’s penalty kill. If Kelly is moved to wing he doesn’t seem to have a problem with that either:
“There are no issues there,” said Kelly. “At center, you skate a little bit more than the wing. But I think if you can play center, you can play wing. Some wingers might beg to differ, but I’ve played wing in the past. It’s nothing new to me.”
The Olympic break is coming up and it will give all the teams in the NHL a break in the action to get healthy for a playoff push. The second half of the season is where it all starts, but hopefully the Bruins can get some pieces back in the form of Hamilton on Saturday.