Ference’s health the only question on defense

Ference

Ference

Entering their ’09 training camp, the Boston Bruins had very few questions about their roster. On defense, the only slight question was whether Johnny Boychuk, signed to a one-year, one-way deal during the summer, would be ready to at least assume the No. 7 defenseman job in Boston

So far, Boychuk has accounted for himself well. And with 10 days until opening night, the only question on the Bruins’ back end is whether Andrew Ference will be healthy enough to be a part of it when the Washington Capitals visit the TD Garden.

Today Ference went through another full-tilt, full-contact practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass. For more on Ference, you can read my blog at ESPNBoston.com.

If Ference can’t suit up against the Caps, both Matt Hunwick and Boychuk would get a chance to suit up. Rookie Adam McQuaid and journeyman Andy Wozniewski could also make the opening night roster as an insurance eighth defenseman.

Regardless, it’s a credit to the Bruins that they’ve gotten to the point where the only question marks on defense are in the sixth and seventh slots. It was just a mere couple years ago that Jason York and Nathan Dempsey were competing for spots in the top four.

Now there’s a chance a top second-year standout like Hunwick or a veteran like Boychuk will be in the press box on opening night. Both players have played solid but not spectacular through the first week-plus of camp. By no means is the battle for the sixth spot (if you include Ference in the top five) a done deal yet. And that’s one of a number of things to keep an eye on as camp continues to unfold.

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