WILMINGTON, Mass. — Both Andrew Ference and Steven Kampfer rejoined the Bruins for practice today for the first time since their injuries.
But right now there’s no guarantee that either will be able to play Tuesday in Columbus or on the rest of Boston’s three-game road trip, which continues in Nashville Thursday and Toronto Saturday. Head coach Claude Julien said it’ll be up to the medical staff and the players to determine their availability.
Some speculated Saturday that Matt Bartowski’s demotion back to the Providence (AHL) farm club was a sign Ference was definitely ready to return. That’s not exactly the case right now for the veteran blueliner, who has been out since Feb. 26 with a lower-body injury. Ference, however, still projects as the player that’s closer to returning.
“I don’t know that I’d expect [to play in Columbus],” said Ference, who had been skating since last week with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides. “I was doing some light contact out there. So it’s another step. But there’s another level to get back to game speed. I definitely have to get there first.”
Ference expects to be able to do more during practice Monday.
“You just keep going, adding a little more each day until you’re ready to play,” he said. “It’s kind of one of those things that you add something more and make sure it’s not too bad the next day and go from there.”
Kampfer has been out with a concussion since March 3. He felt symptoms one dayd last week after his first day on the bike. So after taking off Thursday, he got back on it Friday and felt fine. Saturday was his first day on the ice and he again escaped the day symptom-free.
“I’m just rusty,” he said about his first practice back. “Definitely, after a week off you’ve got to work on some things. … I felt good. I threw some hand grenades out there, so we’ll definitely get everything going hopefully before Tuesday.”
Both players are expected to travel with the team. If there’s a chance that neither player will be available in Columbus, the Bruins would have to make another emergency recall of Bartkowski or another blueliner.