Defenseman Andrew Ference’s ability to play for the Bruins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against Toronto Saturday was part of the collateral damage from the physical play of Game 1 Wednesday.
Ference’s blow to the head of Maple Leafs center Mikhail Grabovski was the only play in the Bruins’ 4-1 win that earned a hearing with the NHL. And Thursday evening it was announced that Ference would be suspended one game.
Here’s the video explanation from the NHL:
As of this afternoon, Bruins coach Claude Julien only offered a veiled comment on the hit, as he tried not to incriminate himself or his player.
“No comment. The thing is the league looks at those things,” Julien said. “That job doesn’t belong to me. So I’ll leave it at that. I do have view on it, but certainly not a view that I should be sharing right now.”
Now Julien and his staff will devise a plan to replace Ference. To me, the simplest move is to re-insert Dougie Hamilton on the second pair with Dennis Seidenberg and move Johnny Boychuk back next to Zdeno Chara. That top four worked for much of the first half of the regular season. Wade Redden and Adam McQuaid are a solid third pair, and both those players could mix in higher up in the lineup if needed. There’s no reason why McQuaid couldn’t skate some shifts with Chara, and Redden with Seidenberg if needed. Assistant coach Doug Houda usually does a bang-up job when it comes to mixing and matching the D.
Another option would be to insert Aaron Johnson on the third pair and move up Redden. But Johnson hasn’t played since March 30. Lastly, the Bruins could recall Matt Bartkowski or another player from Providence. That would seem to be an overreaction considering the Bruins sent Bartkowski down last week and have two capable players already in their midst.
•It was revealed Thursday after Maple Leafs practice that Toronto defenseman Mike Kostka broke a finger in Game 1. He has been declared out for Game 2. Cody Franson’s foot was bruised by a Zdeno Chara shot, so the Leafs might have to insert two new defensemen for Game 2. Phil Kessel didn’t practice and took a maintenance day Thursday.