MONTREAL -- The Boston Bruins will remain at full strength for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal-round series with the Montreal Canadiens, as Chris Kelly declared himself ready to go after returning to Boston for a day to get the green light from team doctors.
Kelly went face first into the goal post after being tripped up by Montreal's Scott Gomez in the first period of Boston's 4-2 win in Game 3, a victory that gives the Bruins an opportunity to even the series 2-2 if they can steal another win in Montreal on Thursday.
Kelly skated Thursday morning with a full cage, and when he finally took it off to meet with reporters he revealed a bruise under his right eye, but said that was the extent of the damage.
He said that while it may take some getting used to, the full cage was not much of a hindrance during the skate.
"It wasn't that bad," said Kelly, who normally wears a half visor but says he hasn't worn a full cage since he was 14. "It was actually a lot better than I thought (it would be.)"
While Bruins coach Claude Julien left absolutely no doubt Kelly would be in the lineup, thereby making rookie Tyler Seguin a healthy scratch for a fourth straight game, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin still wouldn't go that far with his own lineup decisions.
Jeff Halpern looked to be skating at full speed during the Canadiens' skate, one day after suggesting he's as ready as he'll ever be to end a seven-game absence with a lower-body injury.
Yet, Martin still left a door open for Halpern's potential absence.
"There's probably a pretty good chance that Jeff will be in tonight," Martin said. "He brings experience, leadership, he's a good player away from the puck and he can also help us on faceoffs."
As he said those words, Benoit Pouliot remained on the ice skating with the rest of the Canadiens' scratches, Paul Mara, Yannick Weber and backup goalie Alex Auld.
In spite of that clear sign that Pouliot will be the one to lose his spot in the lineup to Halpern, Martin refused to confirm it.
"I don't want to talk about individual players," Martin said. "It's the team that's important."
Of late, Pouliot hasn't been helping the team all that much, going 27 straight games without a goal and being benched for the entire third period of Game 3.
Halpern, meanwhile, figures to replace Tom Pyatt on a line with Lars Eller at center and Travis Moen on the other wing. With Halpern being a right-handed shot and Eller shooting from the left, it allows that line to rotate faceoffs between the two depending on what side of the ice they are taken on.
Pyatt will move down to grab Pouliot's spot on the fourth line with David Desharnais and Ryan White.
"One thing you know about Pyatt is that he'll work hard," Desharnais said of his new linemate. "So our role as a fourth line is to give the team some energy and avoid making mistakes."
While Pouliot is under the spotlight for the Canadiens, a far more high-profile player is feeling the heat for the Bruins.
Milan Lucic led the Bruins with 30 goals in the regular season, yet he is still looking for his first point of the series.
"(Lucic) has been a good player for us all year and he's going to continue to be a good player for us," Julien said. "There's a lot of good things he's doing. Is there a possibility for him to do a little bit more? I think he scored 30 goals this year and you hope that in this series at some point he scores. But even if he doesn't, he's playing hard, he plays his game and you can't criticize him for that. From what I saw last game, he was a better player than (he was in) the first two."