Defenseman Andrew Ference just completed his second league-imposed suspension for an illegal hit in as many seasons.
This ban was just one game, and the Bruins missed him in Game 2 Saturday, as they dropped a 4-2 decision and let Toronto tie up the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals at one game apiece.
With the series shifting to Toronto for Game 3 Monday night and Game 4 Wednesday, Ference will return and, he says, he’ll play the same way he did prior to the suspension. While he’s tried not to express a public opinion on his most recent ban, he obviously feels like his hit on Mikhail Grabovski was singled out amidst a physical series and league-wide playoff season.
“I think you play the same way,” Ference said after practice Sunday at TD Garden. “I saw a bunch of hits [Saturday] night that were the same type of thing and I think that it’s just a hockey play. It’s plays that guys are hitting each other all over the place. And so like I said, you see hits all around the league. And guys are aggressive, and guys can hit and it’s obviously not something that you have to take out of the sport.”
Ference’s return will stabilize the Bruins’ defense pairs and provide more on-ice leadership assuming he’s able to stay in this series. For more on Ference’s return, and coach Claude Julien’s thoughts on Ference, check out my NHL.com feature.