Stuart still needs medical clearance

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins defenseman Mark Stuart didn't play in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, and he's pretty certain he's out of Game 4 too.

Stuart, who will travel to Philadelphia with the team, has been out since April 2 with a nasty infection in his left hand, but he's been back on the ice for a week and has practiced with the team the last two days. His conditioning is game-ready, but he still needs to be cleared medically before he can play.

"He's not playing [Wednesday]," Bruins coach Claude Julien said on Tuesday. "He's not ready for that yet.

"It's a situation that he's got to be medically cleared, and what he's got is obviously a bone infection, so he can practice right now and that's what we've been told," added Julien. "Before we consider him, he has to be medically cleared and we have to feel that he's ready to go as well."

On Wednesday, Julien added: "He's progressing pretty good right now. It's a matter of every day getting a little more feedback from him and from our doctors to see how close we're getting."

Stuart has been on a six-week treatment program and he'll remain on antibiotics until May 25. He will be able to play while on the medication; he will just remove the IV portal in his right forearm.

Stuart was asked if the recently lifted water ban in Boston affected his ability to shower and keep the infection clean.

"With the drugs that I have in my body right now I can eat and drink anything," he said with a laugh. "These things will kill anything, so I don't have to worry about [the water ban]."

Stuart has shown in the past that he's not afraid to get involved in a scrap, especially when the Bruins are playing the Flyers. Now that this series is heating up, Stuart is antsy to get on the ice.

"I just want to get in there -- bottom line," he said. "It's the playoffs. It's the best time of the year. The guys are playing well right now. If I'm going to play, I have to make sure I'm ready. It's not like we don't have six D-men playing their best hockey right now because we do. It's going to do us no good to put a guy in there who's been out for two months just to rush him back."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.