BOSTON — You may remember that Andrew Ference hadn’t played a game since April 4 before tonight’s Game 1 of the Boston Bruins’ Eastern Conference semifinal series with Carolina at TD Banknorth Garden.
But if you watched the Bruins’ 4-1 win and didn’t know the history of Ference’s undisclosed injury, you wouldn’t know there was ever anything wrong with the veteran blueliner. Ference logged 20:09 of ice time and played his typical solid, all-around game.
“I talked to coach this morning, and it was ‘we will see how it goes. If it goes well, play as normal,’” Ference said after the game. “It’s nice to get back to what I am used to. That is right around what is normal for me. Dennis (Wideman) helped me out, he carried me around a little bit out there, at the start. It was a good transition.”
Ference started skated just before Boston closed out Montreal in the first round and began practicing with the team earlier this week. And he earned the major minutes by impressing his coach.
“He’s in great shape, he felt 100 percent ready to go and that’s the only reason that we would’ve put him in. … I liked the way he handled himself tonight, very poised, and kept his game simple and I utilized him for the way he played and that was a pretty solid game on his part,” said head coach Claude Julien.
The Bruins managed to win games without Ference, but they obviously needed him back. Now they have a series lead again with him in the thick of it all.
“It’s good,” he said. “Obviously, you work hard for home-ice advantage for a reason. It’s what it’s all about. You want to take those leads and make the most of your time off and utilize the fact that everybody is feeling pretty healthy and feeling pretty good. If you squander them away, it’s a shame on you.”